The Link Between Gum Disease & Heart Disease

Heart disease and gum disease are often closely related: About 91% of people with heart disease also deal with periodontitis.  The reason for the link is not completely understood, however, the two conditions have many of the same risk factors.

Risk Factors For Both Gum Disease & Heart Disease

·      Smoking
·      Poor Diet
·      Obesity

One study found that problems in the mouth such as gum disease, cavities, and missing teeth predicted heart disease just as much as cholesterol levels.  According to Gordon Douglass, DDS, past president of the American Academy of Periodontology the relationship between cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease is unclear but that “there’s no question that there appears to be a connection.” (Source).

There is a belief that inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in blood vessels and inflamed blood vessels will prevent the needed amount of blood to travel between the heart and the rest of the body.   This in turn can raise blood pressure.

While the reason(s) for the link is not clear, the connection is still important.  Heart disease can be hard to catch early and periodontal disease could be an early indicator.  You won’t necessarily know that your cholesterol is getting high whereas you may notice painful gums or bleeding gums.

This correlation is yet another reason for us to remain vigilant when it comes to good oral hygiene and habits.  If you keep your mouth clean, it’ll be hard for the bacteria that causes gum disease to get going.

Bottom line: Brushing and flossing just may save your life.