Treating Gum Disease: Stroke & Heart Attack Prevention

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Cardiovascular system

Did you know, gum disease is sometimes linked to stroke and heart attack?

When I tell my patients about these sometimes-unknown risks of gum disease, they’re often surprised. But the research confirms there’s a solid like between oral health and cardiovascular health.

According to the CDC, heart disease accounts for one in four American deaths.

A recent study from the scientists at the Forsyth Institute and Boston University confirms that there’s a very real link between oral health and heart disease.

Gum Disease– Not Just a Dental Disease

Periodontitis is a bacteria-induced inflammatory condition that causes real harm to gums, and can eventually destroy them. If your gums are bleeding or inflamed, you should see a dentist immediately. 

Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, refers to conditions involving the vascular system. That can mean narrowed or blocked blood vessels, which can lead to stroke or heart attack.

We’re anxiously awaiting more research on the link between gum disease and heart disease, but the facts are clear– chronic inflammation plays a key role in both gum disease and heart disease. 

Your Gums and Your Heart

The Forsyth research suggests that the bacteria found in infected gum tissue, right around your teeth, can break down the epithelial barrier between gums and the underlying connective tissue.

This allows chemical agitators that cause inflammation, such as antigens and bacteria, to enter the bloodstream.

You’re at risk for heart disease if you smoke, have high cholesterol, have diabetes, or have hypertension– but gum disease also plays a risk factor.

What does all of this mean for you?

If you have gum disease, it’s time to see a dentist.

Similarly, by staying vigilant about your oral health and preventing gum disease, you can help lower your risk of heart disease, as well.

~Dr. Marea White