Heart and Periodontal Disease

It’s possible that if you have periodontal disease, you may be at risk for cardiovascular disease…

For a long time we have known that bacteria may affect the heart. Now evidence is mounting that suggests people with periodontal disease – a bacterial infection – may be at a higher risk for heart disease and have nearly twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack than patients without periodontal disease.

While more research is needed to confirm how periodontal bacteria may affect your heart, one possibility is that periodontal bacteria enter the blood through inflamed gums and cause small blood clots that contribute to clogged arteries.

Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease contributes to the buildup of fatty deposits inside heart arteries.

One out of every five Americans has one or more types of heart disease. If you are one of these Americans, or if you are at risk for periodontal disease, see a periodontist for a periodontal evaluation — because healthy gums may lead to a healthier body. Our experienced dentist, Dr. Anne Nicholas, and her team are committed to improving your oral health through high-quality dentistry in Palm Desert, California.

Why should I be aware of the link between heart disease and periodontal disease?

Healthy hearts and healthy gums play vital roles in maintaining a healthy body. Because periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, periodontal bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. The heart is one of the most susceptible organs.

Heart disease (or cardiovascular disease) affects more than 60 million Americans. It is the leading cause of death in the United States, yet many types of heart disease may be prevented. Taking care of your periodontal health may be one important step toward prevention, along with controlling the well-known risk factors for heart disease.

How does periodontal disease increase my risk for heart disease?

Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.