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Healthy Gums and Healthy Heart: The role of
glutathione and its antioxidant partners
Published in World Health News - Fall 2000
by: Theodore Hersh, MD, MACG
Professor of Medicine, Emeritus, Emory University
Epidemiological studies have revealed the association and prevalence
of gingival (gum) disease and coronary artery disease in the elderly.
Studies have shown there is nearly a three fold increase of heart
disease in patients with gingivitis and periodontitis, independent
of other risk factors such as tobacco abuse.
The free radicals that are generated in the inflammation process
of periodontal disease promote the oxidation of plasma low density
lipoproteins (LDL), which then enhance the development of atherosclerosis.
LDLs in blood transport the "bad" cholesterol, another
etiologic factor in cardiovascular disease.
Blood and tissue levels of glutathione, the body's pivotal antioxidant,
and its synergistic partners, tend to be decreased in the elderly
and this decrease has been related to early senescence and various
geriatric conditions. Local and systemic repletion of glutathione
and the other antioxidants in the glutathione cycle help repair
gingival disease and thereby may decrease the risks of developing
atherosclerosis. This is one of the many anti-aging functions of
glutathione, the body's chief protector and detoxificant. It reduces
the inflammation present in gingival and periodontal diseases.
In the oral cavity, glutathione has been shown to promote the normal
process of attachment, spreading and growth of gingival fibroblasts,
cells which are vital in periodontal tissue repair. Tobacco (whether
smoked or chewed) and betel quid chewing inhibit these tissues mechanisms
and locally deplete the glutathione intracellular levels. If the
cell's glutathione levels are low, the injurious free radicals,
the noxious factors, interfere with collagen synthesis and cause
DNA mutations which increase the risks of developing oro-pharyngeal
malignancies. Repletion with glutathione and its endogenous antioxidant
partners abolishes the damaging effects of the free radicals on
the periodontal tissues, thereby, promoting functioning gingival
fibroblasts. This then promotes normal fibroblasts, which decreases
the inflammation and enhances collagen synthesis vital for gum repair.
Teleologically, healthy gums lessen risks of atherosclerosis.
Periodontal disease results from invasion of pathogenic micro-organisms
and bacterial toxins in the gingiva causing inflammation and destruction
of the connective tissue. This generates toxic free radicals which
aggravate gingival problems, while both bacteria and free radicals
contribute to inflammation of arterial walls and oxidation of plasma
low density lipo-proteins, linking gum disease to atherosclerosis.
The elderly are greatly afflicted by periodontal disease and loss
of teeth, a condition which complicates coronary heart diseases.
Oxidative stress also accelerates gingival disease in diabetic patients
and promotes the vascular complications of diabetes.
Local antibacterial therapy and odontologic procedures are mandatory
to help heal gingivitis and periodontitis. The administration of
antioxidants, low in senescent subjects, are adjuncts in the management
of gingival disease. Healthy gums thus may equate to a healthy heart,
and glutathione therapy with its synergistic antioxidants may then
Thione's toothpaste/gum gel, ThioGel™, its chewable antioxidant
dental tablets, ThioTab®, and its antioxidant intra-oral spray,
OraMist®, all based on L-glutathione and its synergistic partners,
combat the free radicals in inflamed gums. Together, ThioGel™,
ThioTab® and OraMist® not only boost the immune system but
also help heal bleeding gums, fever blisters and canker sores.
*Note: product names have changed. ThioGel™, ThioTab™
and OraMist® have been renamed ThioCare™ Oral Gel, Oral
Lozenge and Oral Spray consecutively.
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