Is Gum Disease Linked To Heart Disease?
Study after study has shown that people who have poor oral health (such as gum disease or tooth loss) have higher rates of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke than people with good oral health.
Why Would Bad Teeth Cause Heart Problems?
Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria – and other germs – from your mouth to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. According to Mayo Clinic, this can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Who Is at Risk?
Patients with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease have the highest risk for heart disease caused by poor oral health, particularly if it remains undiagnosed and unmanaged. The bacteria associated with gum infection are in the mouth and can enter the bloodstream, where they attach to the blood vessels and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Even if you don't have noticeable gum inflammation, however, inadequate oral hygiene and accumulated plaque, also known as biofilm, put you at risk for gum disease. The bacteria can also migrate into your bloodstream, causing elevated C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Symptoms and Warning Signs
According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), you may have gum disease, even if it's in its early stages, if:
Your gums are red, swollen, and sore to the touch.
Your gums bleed when you eat, brush or floss.
You see pus or other signs of infection around the gums and teeth.
Your gums look as if they are "pulling away" from the teeth.
You frequently have bad breath or notice a bad taste in your mouth.
Or some of your teeth are loose or feel as if they are moving away from the other teeth.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against gum disease development.
By being proactive about your oral health, you can protect yourself from developing a connection between oral health and heart disease and keep your smile healthy, clean, and beautiful throughout your life.
Contact New Day Smile Dental Group to schedule a new patient exam or free dental consultation. We can be reached online or by phone at 1-619-464-3944.