Did you know that Gum Disease and Heart Disease are connected?

February 25, 2016—From time to time, the Patel brothers at Serenity Dental will report on the link between oral health and systemic health conditions. Today’s topic is the connection between gum disease and cardiovascular health.

Multiple studies have demonstrated a strong link between gum disease and heart disease. The evidence is so strong that in 2012, the American Heart Association® issued a statement, declaring that there is a definite connection between the two conditions. However, they qualified their statement, noting that gum disease may not lead to heart attacks. Rather, certain risk factors may increase patients’ chances of developing both conditions. A new study, presented to the American Society for Microbiology, gives strong credence to the claim that gum disease leads to heart attacks. Researchers injected mice with bacteria known to cause periodontitis. Accordingly, they found that cholesterol and inflammation levels rose significantly.

Research studies will continue, and Drs. Nilash and Nitash Patel will continue to watch the results of these studies with avid interest. In simple terms, though, this is what you need to know:

  1. When gum tissue becomes inflamed (causing the condition called gingivitis) or infected (causing the condition called periodontitis), oral bacteria damaging to blood vessels is spread throughout your body. When there is an absence of gum disease, there is significantly less of these damaging bacteria in your blood vessels and your heart.
  2. Some research results indicate that the more bacteria you have from gum-disease, the more the lining of your carotid arteries will build up with cholesterol, cells and debris (vascular plaque). If plaque is too thick at any point in an artery, blood can’t flow to your brain (atherosclerosis), and that can cause a stroke.

What can you do to reduce your risk of CVD, heart attack and stroke?

In addition to improved nutrition, regular exercise, and regular medical exams, everyone should be conscientious about good oral hygiene and regularly visit their dentist for professional teeth cleaning and checkups. Gum redness, puffiness and any bleeding should be taken seriously as a sign that damaging periodontal bacteria are present and traveling through your blood stream.

If you see blood when you brush your teeth, make an appointment with us to have your gums examined and a prophylactic teeth cleaning. Some patients need to have this kind of “prophy” or “teeth cleaning” appointment more often than others. Staying on top of any and all gum inflammation will help support a healthy heart.