Is There A Link Between Heart Disease And Gum Disease?
Moise Devarieux MD, Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Mailroom School of Public Health did a study with 657 people. He studied the blood levels and bacteria found in the mouth. People who had higher blood levels of disease-causing bacteria in the mouth and had gum disease were more likely to have clogging of the carotid arteries in the neck which can lead to heart disease and strokes. This study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Hardening of the arteries, a condition known as Atherosclerosis happens as deposits fats and other particles that are in your bloodstream start to stick to the walls of the arteries. As this condition progresses and builds up, it causes the arteries to narrow and plug up like a clogged drain. Depending on the area of the blockage, this situation can bring on a heart attack or stroke because it impedes blood flow.
So the question is often asked, what does the hardening of the arteries have to do with gum disease. The theory states bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream through the gums. That same bacteria have been found in the hardened arteries and that bacteria find the way to the fats in the bloodstream and sticks on to it. This directly contributes to blocked arteries.
Our bodies are amazing points of study. One of the natural responses to infection in the body is inflammation of swelling. The theory here is when oral bacteria move through the body it triggers a response that causes the blood cells to swell which also causes the arteries to narrow increasing the risk of clots.
Dr. Desvarieux Says, “ It is like the chicken and the egg, in our study, we know that people who had higher levels of the bacteria had more arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis. But we can’t say whether one caused the other.”
Even if a periodontal disease does not cause heart disease, the connection is still very clear. Gum disease could very well be an early warning signal of heart disease. Heart disease is really hard to catch in its early stages because you can not feel the symptoms. You can not feel your arteries hardening but you can notice bleeding or painful gums.
Clearing up periodontal disease is pretty easy to do and getting rid of any risk factors is important. If you are a person that has had any sort of heart condition then it would be wise to take antibiotics prior to any dental work. Antibiotics will go a long way in lowering the risk of bacteria in the mouth finding it’s way to tissues of the heart and causing infection.
Common sense will tell you that if you keep your mouth clean it is hard for the bacteria that cause periodontal disease to even get started. Good oral hygiene will not only keep your smile bright but regular use of your toothbrush and floss might also help you avoid some very serious health issues.