November 14, 2014

Carolinas HealthCare System’s Department of Oral Medicine has received a $3.7 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the NIH to study the role of poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease in patients who develop infective endocarditis (IE), an infection of the heart valves. Infective endocarditis has been associated with nearly 1.6 million years of healthy life lost due to death - 30-45 % of which may originate from oral bacteria. This five-year, case-control study involves dentists and cardiologists at three patient enrollment sites: Carolinas Medical Center, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and University of Michigan. Other members of this study team are at Brigham and Women’s hospital, The Forsyth Institute, University of Minnesota, and University of Sheffield, England.

Dr. Peter Lockhart, the study Principal Investigator, has been studying associations between poor oral hygiene, bacteremia and distant site infections for many years. His research group for this study includes other members of the AAOM as well: Drs. Michael Brennan and Tom Sollecito, Department Chairs of Oral Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania, respectively, will serve as Site Co-Principal Investigators responsible for patient enrollment at their hospitals, and Professor Martin Thornhill at University of Sheffield, who is a Co-Investigator on the study.

Data from Dr. Lockhart’s earlier NIDCR R01 study provides convincing evidence that daily activities such as tooth brushing may be as much of a risk for endocarditis as invasive dental procedures. In addition to transforming our understanding of risk factors for IE, data from this new study has the potential to reduce the incidence of IE and its associated morbidity, mortality, and cost. It could provide key information for future clinical guidelines for IE prevention, and could play a critical role in the public health sphere at an international level for all individuals at risk of developing endocarditis.

For more information contact:
Peter B. Lockhart, DDS, Department of Oral Medicine, Carolinas Medical Center, 1000 Blythe Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28232, 704-355-1709 (office), Peter.Lockhart@Carolinas.org