Recent research from the USA has found that people with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease, and may be at an even greater risk than those with high cholesterol levels.
It is suspected that the link between gum disease and heart disease is due to the same bacteria that are found in infected gum tissue around teeth which break down the barrier between the gums and the underlying connective tissue, causing inflammation.
During normal chewing or brushing, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and move to other parts of the circulatory system, contributing to the formation of cardiovascular disease.
Oral bacteria have been found in fatty deposits of people with Atherosclerosis (narrowing of arteries due to build up on artery walls). These deposits can narrow arteries and break loose causing blockages, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Your routine visit to the dentist could reveal if you are at risk of heart disease?
Patients often don’t understand, or simply ignore, the warning signs of gum disease or periodontal disease. Initial symptoms of periodontal disease are often silent, with symptoms often not appearing until the disease becomes more advanced.
The American Academy of Periodontology lists the signs of periodontal disease as the following:
• Red, swollen, or tender gums or other pain in the mouth
• Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
• Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pus between the gums and teeth
• Sores in the mouth
• Persistent bad breath
• A change in the way the teeth fit together when one bites down
• A change in the fit of partial dentures
If any of the above signs are detected during your regular dental examination, your dentist will be able to commence treating the problem and hopefully return your gums to good health, potentially protecting you from heart disease.
Visiting your dentist regularly could help to protect your heart.
Diagram below depicts how new research links gum disease and heart disease.