Researchers have been assessing a potential connection between periodontal (gum) disease and cardiovascular disease for decades. Periodontal disease begins with the build up of a sticky, bacteria-ridden plaque substance on the teeth. Heart disease starts with the build up of a different type of plaque comprised of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other blood-based substances in the arteries.
Although the two conditions seem unrelated (different plaque, different body parts), doctors, dentists, and researchers couldn’t help but notice an apparent correlation between the two. Individuals with periodontal disease have two or three times the risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or other serious cardiovascular event than individuals with healthy gums.
Of course, lots of people with periodontal disease do not have cardiovascular disease and vice versa. The link between the two, however, can no longer be denied; simply too much research indicates otherwise.
More research is needed to understand exactly how or why periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are linked. Although it is not certain, some suspect the relationship between gum disease and cardiovascular disease might have something to do with the inflammation-causing bacteria contained in dental plaque. These bacteria inflame the gums and connective tissues surrounding the teeth. The oral-based bacteria can then enter the bloodstream during normal, daily activities like chewing food, brushing, and flossing. The bacteria then travels throughout the bloodstream, causing inflammation in several areas of the body, including the arteries.
Practicing good oral hygiene and getting regular dental cleanings and exams is the best way to prevent gum disease. If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, Dr. Schaffer will discuss your treatment options to help you manage the condition, safeguarding both your teeth and your heart.