According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 610,000 Americans die of heart disease each year. Since one out of every four deaths can be blamed on cardiovascular disease, perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s the leading cause of death for both men and women. What may surprise you is the fact that there is a strong correlation between periodontal disease and heart disease. Oddly enough, your dentist might be a valuable ally in your fight to protect your cardiovascular health.
Exploring the Correlation Between Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease
What does a correlation between periodontal disease and heart disease mean? A correlation is basically a connection or a relationship. Periodontal disease is more commonly referred to as gum disease. Heart disease, which is also known as cardiovascular disease, is a term used to describe conditions impacting the heart; these can include diseased vessels and arteries, structural problems, and blood clot issues. Basically, health care professionals exploring this correlation are examining the connection between oral and heart health. What have they found?
The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease
Over the years, researchers have found evidence that the pathogens that cause tooth decay and gum disease in the mouth don’t necessarily remain in the mouth. Instead, they enter the bloodstream, where they can cause adverse systemic effects. What does this mean for your heart health? After completing an extensive review of the relevant scientific literature, the American Heart Association stated that periodontal disease is independently associated with arteriosclerotic vascular disease. ASVD, or atherosclerosis, is a condition in which a buildup of plaque on the artery walls causes the artery to become narrower and hardened, and it’s the usual suspect when doctors are looking for the cause of a cardiovascular event like a blood clot, heart attack, or stroke.
Does periodontal disease cause ASVD? It might. In fact, in the groundbreaking article “High-Risk Periodontal Pathogens Contribute to the Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis,” which was published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal, world-renowned cardiovascular specialists Dr. Bradley Bale and Dr. Amy Doneen argue that periodontal disease caused by certain high-risk pathogens is a potential cause of ASVD. They point to evidence that periodontal disease caused by these high-risk pathogens is a source of systemic inflammation and can adversely impact the three essential mechanisms in the biological process that leads to ASVD. Ultimately, this suggests that identifying and treating periodontal disease resulting from these particular pathogens could offer an effective way to prevent ASVD and reduce the number of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease.
Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease, and Human Health
How should the correlation between periodontal disease and heart disease impact your health? It indicates that dental health truly matters. Ignoring or neglecting your oral health can have serious, systemic consequences. This suggests that dental care should be considered an integral part of a person’s overall health care rather than a completely separate entity. As Inside Dentistry explains, the new understanding of this connection drives home the need for a collaborative approach that allows dental care professionals to work cooperatively with their peers in health care.
Although the realization that neglecting your oral health can endanger the health of your heart is sobering, the cardiovascular system isn’t the only part of the body that can feel the effects of your oral health. As it advances, periodontal disease triggers inflammation, and chronic inflammation is linked with a wide range of dangerous health conditions, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
Treating periodontal disease can remove a potential source of inflammation, which just might benefit both your health and your wallet. As Harvard Health Publishing reports, when researchers examined health and dental insurance records of people dealing with periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, or pregnancy, the results were striking. Individuals who were treated at least once for periodontal disease had fewer hospitalizations and lower medical costs within four years of the treatment when compared to those who had forgone treatment for periodontal disease.
Are You at Risk for Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is very common, but it’s also very preventable. Watch out for the following symptoms:
- Gums that are red, tender, or swollen
- Gums that are receding or prone to bleeding
- Teeth that are loose or sensitive
- Persistent bad breath or unpleasant taste
- Painful chewing
- Changes in the bite
- Changes in the fit of dental appliances
While the treatment for gum disease depends on its severity, the recommendations for preventing it are fairly universal. Maintaining an effective oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups can help you avoid periodontal disease.
Are you worried about periodontal disease? To learn more about it and get the quality dental care that you deserve, contact Duff Family Dental today to schedule an appointment. We offer a full line of general, cosmetic, pediatric, and restorative dentistry services. Call us at 417-501-8601 or contact us online today!