Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

Many people don’t realize that periodontal disease, heart disease, and stroke may be related, but researchers have found that people who suffer from gum disease are nearly twice as likely to also suffer from coronary heart disease. On top of that, many studies also suggest that oral infections are a risk factor for stroke, and patients diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were also likely to also be experiencing some form of periodontal disease.

Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty proteins build up on the walls of the coronary arteries. This leaves the heart struggling to get enough oxygen, and it has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. People who suffer from coronary heart disease may also experience blood clots which block healthy blood flow and reduce the amount of vital nutrients and oxygen the heart receives. This condition is what contributes to heart attacks. So the question is, what does this have to do with periodontal disease?

Reasons for the Connection

It has been shown that periodontal disease can exacerbate existing heart conditions, and we will work with you to help you understand the connection and provide the treatments you need.

While there is undeniably some kind of connection between gum disease and these other chronic conditions, there are several theories that may explain the link.

  • Inflammation – Periodontal disease severely inflames the gums, which elevates the white blood cell count and also the high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels. Many studies have shown that elevated levels of C-reactive proteins are linked to heart disease.
  • Oral bacteria affect the heart – Researchers believe that some of the strains of oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in the coronary arteries. This can lead to clot formation and potential heart attacks.
  • Infectious susceptibility – Particularly high levels of oral bacteria may lead to problems for people with weaker immune systems or inadequate host inflammatory responses. If this is the case, it may induce some vascular effects which can contribute to the onset of certain forms of heart disease.

What Can We Do About It?

Periodontal disease does appear to be a risk factor for heart attacks and stroke, so it’s important to get treated as soon as possible. We will start with a thorough examination to assess the exact condition of your teeth, gums and jawbone. From there, we can provide deep cleaning treatments, such as scaling and root planning, to remove tartar deposits from the gum pockets. We may recommend an antibiotic to ensure that the bacterium is completely wiped out and the periodontal infection does not spread.

If you have any questions or concerns about your own periodontal condition, please contact us and set up and appointment. We’ll be glad to speak with you about it.

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