Oral & Cardiovascular Health

Oral Health and Heart Disease- a little known association.

Scientists suspect the link between the two diseases is due to the same bacteria. In this scenario, bacteria found in infected gum tissue which surround teeth break down the barrier between the gums and the underlying connective tissue, causing inflammation. During normal chewing or brushing, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and move to other parts of the circulatory system, contributing to the formation of several types of cardiovascular disease.

Scientists and dentists have often spoke about the link between oral health and heart disease. This is because these the two conditions can share the same type of bacteria, and when this bacteria enters the oral cavity it can destroy gum and other connective tissue. When this destructive process is allowed to progress without interruption, it may cause inflammation through tasks such as chewing and eating which cause these types of bacteria to enter the bloodstream. When this bacteria enters the bloodstream it is free to spread throughout the body, which contributes to the creation or contribution of cardiovascular diseases.

While inflammation is typically the body's normal response to and an injury or an infection, it may lead to certain types of cardiovascular concerns including the formation of arterial plaque. When this plaque builds it may obstruct the flow of normal, healthy blood circulating throughout the body. Think what happens to the flow of water through a garden hose when you kink the hose. If you only slightly kink that hose, water pressure at the end of the hose with rise because more pressure is required to get the fluid from part A to part B.

"Think what happens to the flow of water through a garden hose"

Another issue with plaque formation, is if enough plaque is formed within the wall of an artery, it may break off and form a clot which could potentially be life threatening.

The first step in effective treatment is a proper diagnosis. Ask your dentist about oral disease and ask if you have any signs or symptoms.

Similar to a variety of other medical conditions, symptoms of periodontal disease can be very obvious or nearly impossible to detect.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, the following may be signs of periodontal disease(1):

  • A change in the way the teeth fit together when one bites down

  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums or other pain in the mouth

  • Pus between the gums and teeth

  • Sores in the mouth

  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food

  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before

  • Loose or separating teeth

  • Persistent bad breath

Interestingly enough, some research has found that periodontal disease may be high in men (56.4%), compared to women (38.4%).(2). Check out what the AAP has to say about the prevalence of this disease in men by clicking here. For prevalence in women, click here.

1. https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-symptoms.htm

2. https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-men

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