Get to the Heart of Oral Health
Did you know that research shows a link between gum disease and heart disease and stroke? Evidence is mounting that people with periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection, may be more at risk for heart disease and stroke.1 In fact, gum disease also may worsen existing heart conditions.
This is because bacteria and its by-products from the gum tissues may enter the bloodstream and form small blood clots that may contribute to the clogging of arteries. The inflammation caused by gum disease also may lead to the buildup of fatty deposits inside heart arteries.2
Although gum disease is not an independent risk factor for heart disease or stroke, there are consistent findings showing an association.3, 4 Also, the American Academy of Periodontology has concluded that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without gum disease.2
Be aware of the following possible warning signs of gum disease:
Red, swollen, or tender gums
Bleeding while brushing or flossing
Gums that pull away from the teeth
Loose or separating teeth
Persistent bad breath1
Although you can’t guarantee that you’ll never have a heart attack, regular brushing and flossing could help decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke. Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly for exams and cleanings. Sometimes gum disease can’t be seen. If plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar. Even if you think you’re doing a great job flossing, plaque can still remain in your mouth. Only a dental professional can remove the tartar and plaque that you may miss.5
Taking Extra Care
If you have heart disease, it is important to establish and maintain a healthy mouth through good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. In addition, make sure your dentist knows that you have a heart problem. Ask your provider if you need a bacterial endocarditis wallet card. Carefully follow your health care provider’s and dentist’s instructions when they prescribe special medicines, such as antibiotics.6
1 “Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, July 23, 2008. www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm Accessed 2010.
2 “Gum Disease Links to Heart Disease and Stroke.”American Academy of Periodontology, May 8, 2008. www.perio.org/consumer/mbc.heart.htm Accessed 2010.
3 “Angiographically confirmed coronary heart disease and periodontal disease in middle-aged males.” J.E. Briggs et al. Journal of Periodontology. January 2006, vol. 77, no 1, pp. 95-102. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16579709?ordinalpos=8&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Accessed 2010.
4 “Periodontal disease and coronary heart disease: an epidemiological and microbiological study.” M. Latronico et al. New Microbiol. July 2007, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 221-28.
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17802899?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Accessed 2010.
5 “Disease, Gum (Diseases, Periodontal).” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/3063.aspx?currentTab=1 Accessed 2010.
6 “Dental Care and Heart Disease.” American Heart Association. www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4548 Accessed 2010.