Periodontal Disease & Heart Disease: Is There a Connection?

Periodontal Disease & Heart Disease: Is There a Connection?


The more science uncovers about the body the more it is beginning to see just how interconnected it is. Problems in one area can have profound impacts on seemingly unrelated parts. Modern dentistry is beginning to recognize this.

One such connection we are seeing is how dental decay and the associated bacteria can travel into the bloodstream and possibly cause major health issues – specifically heart disease.

Periodontal Disease

Also commonly called “gum disease”, periodontal disease is the inflammation and erosion of the gums due to bacteria buildup. You may have also heard of this referred to as “gingivitis” or “periodontitis”. The former refers to the early stage of periodontal disease while the latter refers to the advanced stage.

Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis can rarely be cured, although there are ways it can be treated.

Gingivitis begins with excessive bleeding when you brush your teeth, although it is usually not painful. You will likely see a red or purple discoloration. Halitosis (bad breath) may be another factor.

Periodontitis is usually painful and causes the gums to erode away from the teeth. Tooth loss is a common factor as well.

Link To Heart Disease

Inflammation is a major factor in periodontal disease. It’s also a major factor in heart disease.

Consider another factor: plaque. Periodontal disease occurs from the plaque and so does heart disease. When the gums are excessively bleeding, plaque and associated bacteria have a direct route to the bloodstream and into the heart.

According to Dr. Howard Jenkinson, professor of Oral Microbiology at Bristol’s School of Oral and Dental Science, “Poor dental hygiene can lead to bleeding gums, providing bacteria with an escape route into the bloodstream, where they can initiate blood clots leading to heart disease.”

More and more evidence is revealing the impact of periodontal health and overall health. In fact, the American Heart Association has also recognized a link between gum disease and heart disease. Bacteria in the bloodstream may inflame the arteries of the heart, causing them to narrow.

All of this is to say that good dental hygiene may be key to far more than a healthy smile. Keeping up with your dental hygiene may also mean far greater health for your body overall.

Modern Dentistry Is Beginning To Recognize This

Over the years, the field of dentistry has come a long way. Products and procedures once considered commonplace are being avoided in favor of safer alternatives.

Many dentists are focusing on gentle gum cleaning so as not to force bacteria into the bloodstream and focusing on using chemicals and products that are safer for the human body.

For example, amalgam (silver) tooth fillings used to be commonplace. Now dentists are resorting to resin fillings due to the toxic nature of mercury (which makes up 50+ percent of amalgam fillings).

Modern dentists are adopting a variety of products and procedures that are helpful not just for dental problems, but the body as a whole. Dentists are no longer viewing dental issues as isolated problems in the mouth; the ramifications of dental decay and periodontal disease can have wide-reaching negative effects on the body.

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