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February 21, 2012

Plaque by any Other Name

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_wade @ 7:00 am

The shear definition of plaque and calculus should lead us to believe that medicine has long suspected the link between cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease. Just think, we call the unhealthy beginning of gingivitis and periodontal disease plaque and calculus. This is what we remove when we brush our teeth and get a professional dental cleaning. If you have cardiovascular disease, it is plaque or calcium buildup in your arteries that ultimately have lead to your problem.

Here is some food for thought, think about the similarities:

What is Dental Plaque?

Dental plaque is a soft deposit that accumulates on the teeth. Plaque can be defined as a complex microbial community. In addition to the bacterial cells, plaque contains a small number of epithelial cells, leukocytes, and macrophages. The cells are contained within an extracellular matrix, which is formed from bacterial products and saliva. The extracellular matrix contains protein, polysaccharide and lipids.
The oral cavity contains the only known anatomical aspect of the human body that does not have a regulated system of shedding surfaces: the teeth. This allows a numerous amount of microorganisms to adhere to the surface of teeth for long periods of time. These multiple species of bacteria become dental biofilm. Dental biofilm, more commonly referred to as dental plaque, is composed of about a thousand bacteria that take part in the complex ecosystems of the mouth.

At first, the biofilm is soft enough to come off by using finger nail. However, it starts to harden within 48 hours, and in about 10 days the plaque becomes dental calculus (tartar) hard and difficult to remove. Dental plaque can give rise to problems such as gingivitis and chronic periodontitis.

What Is Coronary Heart Disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease, is a condition in which plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis (ATH-er-o-skler-O-sis). The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.

Atherosclerosis


Over time, plaque hardens into calculus or calcium deposits and narrows your coronary arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle.

Eventually, an area of plaque can rupture (break open). This causes a blood clot to form on the surface of the plaque. If the clot becomes large enough, it can mostly or completely block blood flow through a coronary artery. If the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle is reduced or blocked, angina (an-JInuh or AN-juhnuh) or a heart attack may occur.

A heart attack occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked. If blood flow is not restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die. Without quick treatment, a heart attack can lead to serious problems and even death.

The key message to take home is to prevent plaque accumulation in anyway possible, either in your mouth or in your arteries.

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