Periodontal disease (also called periodontitis or gum disease) has been linked with multiple health concerns throughout the body, such as respiratory conditions, diabetic symptoms, and pregnancy complications. It is also the main cause of tooth loss in the world. Heart disease is another health concern that has been linked to periodontal disease as well as symptoms related to it.
The Basics of Periodontal Disease
Bacteria in the mouth, if not properly removed, begins to cling to the teeth as plaque. Plaque, if not properly removed will harden into tartar which is only removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. As the bacteria spreads, the first sign of gum , inflammation can begin around your gums. This inflammation also known as an infection will create the gum tissue to pull away from the tooth and destruction of the bone that supports the teeth. Gingivitis, which is reversible, is the first stage of periodontal disease.
The following symptoms often accompany the development and advancement of of gum disease:
- Gums bleeding easily
- Inflamed or sore gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Pus or pimples around the gums
- Receding gums or “toothy” smiles
- Loose or shifting teeth
The Connection to Heart Disease
As mentioned, complications with the heart are linked to periodontitis, including cerebrovascular ischemia (decreased blood flow to the brain), stroke, and heart disease. In fact, some patients can have two times the risk of developing both coronary heart disease and periodontal disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, those with an increased chance of periodontitis have an increased chance of heart disease.
However, the American Heart Association has not concluded which direction the link between the two conditions goes or whether another factor contributes to both periodontal and heart disease. Both of these conditions share similar contributing factors, such as tobacco use, diabetes, and unhealthy eating habits (including malnutrition).
The following are possible connections between the two diseases:
- Immune System: As periodontal disease or heart disease continues, a patient’s immune system can become compromised. This makes it harder to fight off other conditions should they arise. In the case of periodontal disease, this can increase the risk of developing symptoms related to heart disease.
- C-reactive proteins (CRP): Bacteria associated with gum disease can cause the tissue in your mouth to become inflamed. This inflammation can trigger the release of C-reactive proteins which can increase the chances of blood clots as well as blocked arteries.
- Oral bacteria: Once in the bloodstream, certain strains of periodontal bacteria can become attracted to fat and plaque deposits in your arteries. Blood clots and blocked arteries can occur if this build-up continues.
What You Can Do
The connection between periodontal disease and heart disease is serious and both should be addressed as soon as they are discovered. It’s been reported that 4 out of 5 people with periodontitis are unaware as gum disease unless severe is painless. This is why regular check-ups twice a year at Advanced Dentistry South Florida are important. Periodontitis is not only linked with heart disease, but also respiratory difficulties such as COPD, diabetic symptoms, and pregnancy complications.
It’s vital that you brush regularly, floss, and practice healthy eating habits. Talk to your dentist at Advanced Dentistry South Florida, or your cardiologist about what you can do to lessen your risk of periodontal disease and heart disease. Keep yourself informed and you can help keep your teeth, your heart, and your whole body healthy.