The Connection Between Heart Disease and Oral Health

Posted on Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Heart disease is widely known to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Less widely known, however, is the link between gum disease and cardiovascular conditions. Studies have shown that those with chronic gum disease are at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack due to bacteria from infected gums entering the blood stream.

Smokers Are at Increased Risk 
For Periodontal Disease

   While many smokers are aware of the connection between smoking and lung cancer, they should also know it  increases the possibility of both heart and periodontal disease.
    The link between smoking and oral decay is clear: A study by the Journal of Periodontology found that smokers are four times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease.
    A survey of periodontists found that 79 percent routinely advised patients to quit smoking in order to improve their oral health.
    Smoking increases oral bacteria and makes the lining of blood vessels stickier, which increases the chance that bacteria will affix to them.

The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) believes that the plaque, which builds up on teeth and can cause gingivitis and periodontal disease, also has the ability to dislodge from infected gums and travel through the bloodstream until it attaches to blood vessels. If this happens, it increases the possibility of blot clots. The clots then decrease the flow of blood to the heart that, in turn, can increase blood pressure, the risk of a heart attack and the chances of a stroke.

The bacteria that causes periodontal disease has been found in heart arteries that are hardened with plaque, indicating that it traveled to the heart from the gums. Oral bacteria can also cause immune system reactions that have the potential to further damage delicate heart arteries. In addition, periodontal disease can cause a general inflammation of the mouth, which can spread to other areas of the body. 

For all of these reasons, it is important to prevent gum disease and quickly treat it when it appears.

Signs of Gum Disease

While the severity of gum disease ranges from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontal disease, the following are symptoms that need to be brought to the attention of a dentist or periodontist:

Bleeding, swollen and receding gums,
Mouth sores and
An onset of bad breath that does not diminish.

Brushing and flossing teeth twice a day is the best way to maintain oral health, in addition to scheduling annual or bi-annual dental check-ups and cleanings.

An Unhealthy Mouth Can Indicate Other Health Problems

The AGD has suggested that 90 percent of systemic diseases have the possibility of presenting oral symptoms. Oral pain, inflammation or infection can indicate a more serious systemic disorder. A painful jaw, for example, is one of the symptoms of heart disease.

If you already suffer from heart conditions, or high blood pressure, pay special attention to your oral health. Here are some guidelines:

Brush and floss daily. Visit the dentist on a regular basis.
Inform your dentist of your history of heart disease, including any medications you take.
Ask both your dentist and physician if there are any special instructions regarding the connection between oral and heart health.

Whether you suffer from heart disease or periodontal issues, vigilant mouth and gum care are imperative. And if you do not have symptoms of either condition, good oral health may help prevent problems in the future.

Posted in Tax Topics For Individuals

Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.

"Bruner Dental has been with DWD for well over 15 years. The entire team at DWD has been helpful in many ways. From simple questions day to day, to audits, payroll needs, and much more; they…"

Rondell Nelson

Bruner Dental