Researchers have recently found a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and continued study is ongoing. The most recent study found that patients with periodontal disease, the infection or inflammation of the gums, are twice as likely to have heart disease. One theory is that the connection comes as a result of oral bacteria entering the bloodstream and flowing into the heart and lungs. The bacteria then attaches to the arteries, contributing to the arterial narrowing, blood clot formation and blockages which can lead to a heart attack.
Another theory is that periodontal disease inflammation creates plaque build-up, swelling the arteries and worsening heart problems. One study even found that cavities, gingivitis and missing teeth were able to predict heart disease as well as the more common cholesterol level evaluation. Even if future studies don’t reveal periodontal disease as a cause of heart disease, its presence could be an early indicator of the development of heart disease; after all periodontal disease’s symptoms are much easier for patients to notice than something like cholesterol levels rising.
Interestingly, the American Dental Association reports that numerous studies link dental health and periodontal disease with heart disease. It is important if you are at risk for heart disease that you eat healthy, exercise, don’t smoke and lose weight if you are overweight, as these are known aids in reducing the risk. Now, though the evidence is not completely clear, studies are ongoing and seem to indicate that a sound oral health regimen of brushing, flossing, rinsing and regular dental exams can also go a long way in helping to keep you healthy.