Heart Disease and Gum Disease
|1. Why does there appear to be an association between heart disease and gum disease (periodontitis)?
Scientific studies have shown that there is a relationship between gum disease and heart disease. Dental disease was an important and significant predictor of heart disease even when these studies have taken into account the following risk factors: smoking, fats, hypertension, age, sex, socioeconomic status, the number of previous heart attacks, weight and diabetes.
2. Is this association only with heart disease?
No. The association between periodontal disease and bone loss from periodontal disease existed not only for heart disease, but also for death from heart disease, as well as for the risk for strokes.
3. How do doctors think that gum disease has an impact on the cardiovascular system?
There is the feeling that the gum disease produces inflammatory products that tend to increase the risks for heart disease. Other researchers have shown that certain dental bacteria, such as Streptococcus sanguis can produce the clumping of blood platelets in experiments. This clumping then can become the initiator of a blood thrombus or clot which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If gum disease lowers the gum tissue resistance and then allows these types of bacteria to get into the blood stream, you can see how there is the increased risk for heart disease and/or strokes.
4. What should I do about making sure that my heart health and the heart health of my family is maintained at the highest levels?
Follow the directions of your family physician or your heart disease specialist. However, it may be very useful to have a screening for periodontal disease when you are concerned about the potentital for heart disease to be affected by gum disease. Additionally, if anyone that you know or love has heart valve problems, it may be worthwhile to have an evaluation of their gum disease status.