The most apparent link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease is inflammation, or swelling. Periodontal disease is the inflammation and bacterial infection of the gums and teeth, which left untreated may cause tooth loss, infection and cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have found that people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to develop and suffer from atherosclerosis, hardened arteries from inflammation, which is the typical cause of strokes and heart attacks. Atherosclerosis makes it difficult for blood to flow to the heart.
How Gum Disease Affects Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease
Inflammation is a symptom of gum disease, which is most noticeable by swollen and tender gums. Inflammation leads to increased plaque and affects your cardiovascular system. Periodontitis, a type of gum disease, is infected pockets in the gums. The bacterium from the infected pockets is able to spread below the gum line, into the bloodstream, and to the heart. When the bacteria enter the bloodstream it can attach to the plaque residing in the heart vessels causing infection. Another type of gum disease is gingivitis, a common condition, with sore, swollen gums that bleed easily, if left untreated it can progress into periodontitis.
How Periodontal and Cardiovascular Disease Affect Each Other
The typical person that is affected by the link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are:
- They have the highest concentration of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood stream. CRP is produced in the liver and its levels get higher in response to inflammation.
- Patient population with heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are sometimes linked to overworked heart valves. Atherosclerosis can cause heart valves to be overworked.
- Have artificial prosthetics most commonly hip joints. People in need of a knee or hip joint replacement had the DNA of the bacteria in that joint tested. The DNA was found to match the DNA in their plaque. This shows a clear correlation between people in need of a joint replacement and gum disease.
- People with acute cerebralvascular ischemia. Acute cerebralvascular ischemia is a condition that the metabolic demand is greater than the blood flow. The lack of oxygen causes brain tissue to die.
The best course of action is to take your oral hygiene seriously by brushing and flossing daily, using mouthwash and visiting us at the Arizona Periodontal Group every six months for a deep clean and check-up. Make an appointment with our office and have your gums checked for the symptoms of periodontal disease. By taking healthy steps and good oral hygiene you will protect your mouth and your heart.