Connection Found between Gum Disease and Heart Disease/Stroke
Research shows that there is a connection between periodontal disease and both heart disease and stroke. Periodontal disease is an advanced form of gum disease involving the inflammation of the gums below the gum line. This affects the deeper tissues and bone supporting the teeth. It is imperative that people who have gum disease practice proper oral hygiene and visit the dentist for regular cleanings.
Periodontal disease is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. When these bacteria enter the blood stream, they can impact the heart. This happens because the oral bacteria associated with gum disease may attach themselves to fatty plaques in the heart’s blood vessels. This causes blood clots to form. Heart attacks occur when these blood clots block the flow of blood to the heart, thus keeping necessary oxygen and nutrients from reaching this vital organ.
Another theory is that plaque builds up and causes the heart’s blood vessels to swell due to inflammation in the mouth. Statistics show that a person with periodontal disease is two times more likely to have heart disease than those who do not have this gum disease. Gum disease therefore increases the risk of heart disease.
Experts say that periodontal disease can worsen existing heart conditions as well. This is why patients with certain heart issues and conditions may be required to take antibiotics prior to undergoing dental procedures.
A link has been found between periodontal disease and stroke. According to one study, oral infection is more likely to occur in someone with acute cerebrovascular ischemia—a condition in which there is not enough blood flow to the brain—than in those without this condition.