Peter told me that one of the reasons he wanted to know more about gum disease was because he already had many risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors for heart disease include…

  • Advancing age
  • Being male
  • Hereditary links to heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity

Peter was a 58 year old male, living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, whose father had suffered from heart disease. Peter was interested in lowering his risk of heart disease, and he wanted to know how his oral health could be connected to his heart health.

Heart Disease and Gum Disease

There is clearly a connection between incidences of gum disease and heart disease. There are currently two theories as to how periodontal disease may contribute to heart disease.

One possibility is that oral bacteria from gum disease enter the blood stream, and then attaches to fatty plaques in arteries. These fatty plaques create clots, and the artery walls thicken. Blood clots restrict the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the heart and lead to heart attack.

The other possibility is that the body’s natural inflammatory response caused by periodontal disease increases plaque buildup which then contributes to swelling of the arteries. Oral bacteria travel through the body causing blood cells to swell, narrowing the arteries, and increasing the likelihood of clots.

Although the exact link between heart disease and gum disease is still being researched, it remains true that people with periodontal disease are significantly more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than patients with healthy gums and teeth.

Peter was already taking steps to lower his risk for heart disease, by…

  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercising at least four times a week
  • Controlling his blood pressure and cholesterol

After discussing the connection between heart disease and gum disease Peter decided to improve his oral hygiene habits as another way to potentially lower his risk for heart disease. He made a commitment to…

  • Brush his teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Use an antimicrobial mouth rinse
  • Come to my office for regular cleanings, to rid his teeth of plaque and tartar

 

Now Peter knows that he’s doing everything he can to lower his risk of heart disease. You can’t control all of the risk factors of heart disease—things like gender and genetics are beyond your control. However, keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy is an easy way to lower your risk for heart disease and look great doing it!

If you’d like to learn more about dental cleanings, preventing gum disease, or the connection between gum disease and heart disease, just click here to schedule an appointment.

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