For many people, taking care of their oral health is only necessary for having pearly white teeth and fresh breath. But did you know that your oral health can also have a direct effect on your physical health and well-being? Continue reading to find out more about the mysterious relation between periodontal disease and heart disease.
Our mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body. Anything we eat or drink first passes through the mouth and then transports to other body organs. Teeth cavities and inflamed gums contain harmful bacteria. These bacteria travel through the bloodstream to different body organs, causing severe medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cancer, respiratory, and heart disease.
Periodontal disease is a condition characterized by the inflammation of the gums and other supporting tooth structures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 71.6% of US adults aged 65 and above have some form of periodontal disease.
Early-stage periodontal disease is known as gingivitis. It is characterized by inflamed, swollen, sensitive, and bleeding gums. As plaque builds around the teeth in later stages, the inflammation extends deeper into structures. As a result, the jawbone that supports the teeth is damaged. If untreated gingivitis problem is not treated timely, the teeth become mobile, ultimately leading to tooth loss.
Now that we know about periodontal disease, let us understand how gum disease increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease: What’s the Connection?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease refers to a group of disorders related to the heart and circulatory systems. This disease is global that affects over 43 million Americans, especially the elderly population. Various research studies have established a connection between poor oral health and heart disease. While scientists have not found a two-way, causal relationship, researchers believe that underlying periodontal disease may increase the risk of developing heart conditions.
A research study presented in the American Heart Association’s scientific sessions has also established a link between gum disease and heart disease. This study shows that people who brushed their teeth for less than two minutes had a three-fold increased risk of developing heart problems than those who brushed twice daily for at least two minutes.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has revealed interesting results. This study evaluated individuals suffering from periodontal and heart disease. It was found that those who had undergone dental treatment for periodontal disease had to spend 10-40% less on the treatment of heart problems than those who sought regular dental care.
How Does Gum Disease Increase the Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes?
According to the American Dental Association, there are two possible mechanisms to explain the connection between periodontal health and heart disease. First, chronic inflammation in the oral cavity due to periodontal disease leads to increased inflammatory mediators in the bloodstream. These inflammatory mediators lead to the activation of the body’s immune system, resulting in coronary artery disease. This disease is a condition in which fat is deposited inside the blood vessels, resulting in a reduction in artery diameter, thereby resulting in an elevation in blood pressure that significantly increases the risk of a cardiovascular event.
Another explanation is that the inflamed gums in periodontal disease may act as reservoirs for disease-causing bacteria. These bacteria enter the bloodstream through the bleeding gums. They are transported to the cardiovascular organs, resulting in strong immune responses that trigger inflammation and damage to the cardiac system.
A very recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology in 2021 evaluated the connection between gum disease and cardiac disorders. CT scans of the patients were done at baseline and then at follow-up four years later. The study results showed that individuals with radiographic signs of active periodontal disease were more likely to have cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes.
Poor Oral Health and Existing Heart Conditions
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, poor oral health may also be a risk factor for individuals existing heart problems. According to the American Heart Association, the harmful bacteria inside the inflamed gums can enter the bloodstream and lead to inflammation of the heart’s inner lining, the endocardium.
Cardiovascular disease is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Every year, over 12 million individuals in the US die due to heart disease. Due to the direct correlation between oral health and cardiac health, ensuring optimal oral hygiene may be the easiest and most cost-effective option for preventing cardiovascular disease. Hence, by simply maintaining good oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing, you can save yourself from heart disorders through regular brushing and flossing.
Plaque and tartar formation on the teeth initiates a chain reaction that leads to bacterial penetration in the vascular system, leading to inflammation and cardiac problems. Therefore, regular dental checkups also go a long way in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis. This is because, at each appointment, your dentist will assess your overall health and may perform professional teeth cleaning to remove plaque deposits, thereby preventing your gums from inflammation and reducing the risk of heart failure.
In short, heart disease can be prevented easily by minimizing its risk factors:
- Eat healthy foods.
- Brush your teeth regularly.
- Maintain an active lifestyle.
- Visit your doctor regularly for medical advice.
- That is all that is needed to keep your heart and teeth healthy.
If you have any concerns about Periodontal disease and would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us right away. Our friendly staff is ready to answer all your questions and arrange a consulting appointment with Dr. Adatrow. Dr. Adatrow has more than 18 years of experience placing dental implants in Memphis, TN, and Desoto County, MS regions. He has a success rate of over 97% and can provide you with the best periodontal disease treatment.