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The connection between oral and heart disease

Researchers are finding possible links between periodontal (gum) infections and other diseases throughout the body.  Current studies suggest that there may be a link between periodontal (gum) disease, heart disease and other health conditions.  research suggests that gum disease may be a more serious risk factor for the development of heart disease than high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, gender and age.

New studies suggest that people who have gum disease seem to be at a higher risk for heart attacks, although no one is certain how this relationship works.  Your oral health affects your overall health, but the studies that will find exactly why these problems are linked are still underway.

How can gum disease affect my overall health?

The current theory is that bacteria present in diseased gums can migrate throughout the body through the bloodstream.  The same bacteria that cause gum disease and irritate your gums can travel to your arteries.  Researchers are unsure what causes the bacteria to become mobile, but it has been suggested that bacteria can be dislodged and enter the bloodstream during tasks as simple as brushing, flossing, or even chewing.

Research shows that risk varies according to the degree of gum infection.  The worse the infection, the more likely bacteria are to become blood-borne.  Infected gums bleed, making it easier for bacteria to enter your bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body.

Bacteria that reach arteries can irritate and infect them in the same way they irritate or infect gum tissues.  This could cause arterial plaque to accumulate in the arteries, causing hardening and restricting blood flow.  Compromised blood flow to the heart can cause a heart attack.  Arterial plaque can also loosen and travel to other areas of the body.  If blockage occurs in the brain, it can cause a stroke.

Your best protection is to maintain a healthy mouth.  Using a prescription mouth rinse before dental care helps neutralize bacteria in the mouth before they enter the blood during treatment procedures, providing additional protection for patients.

What should you do?

Keep you mouth healthy! Be sure to see your dentist at recommended intervals for periodic maintenance care (for some patients as seldom as once a year, for others as often as every two or three months).  Gum disease is a true infection that should always be taken seriously.  Although gum disease is often without symptoms, you should watch for gums that are red, swollen, irritated, or which bleed easily.  There are many new treatments available to control or reverse gum diseases.

Gum disease is caused by a buildup of bacteria laden plaque on the teeth or roots.  Regular brushing and flossing is the only way to thoroughly remove plaque you can't see at and below the gum line.  This will minimize your chances of developing gum problems and your risk of heart disease.

 

 

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David J. Fox, D.M.D., P.C.

Quality Dentistry for Discerning Adults ®

Telephone: (215) 481-0441

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