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Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

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Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

heart diseasePerhaps its difficult to immediately see the link between gum disease, heart disease and stroke, but researchers have shown that those with gum disease are more than twice as likely to also have coronary heart disease. Additionally, studies have show that oral infection is also a risk factor for stroke. And if you have acute cerebrovascular ischemia, you’re more likely than the general population to have periodontitis.

Gum disease is a progressive condition characterized by infection in the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Bacteria in plaque colonize first above the gum line, then below the gum line, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth they surround. When the disease isn’t treated, deep pockets can form between teeth and gums, and there can eventually be destruction of the underlying jawbone tissue as well. When the bone is destroyed, the teeth can shift and eventually be lost.

Coronary heart disease happens when the coronary artery walls get ticker because of fatty proteins building up. The heart then cannot get enough oxygen and must work harder to pump blood around the body.

Those who suffer from coronary heart disease sometimes have blood clots that obstruct the blood’s normal flow and keep essential nutrients and oxygen away from the heart. This is one cause of heart attacks.

Understanding The Connection

Very little doubt exists that gum disease can make an existing heart condition worse. Your periodontist and cardiologist can work together to effectively treat both conditions.

Several theories may explain the clear link between heart disease, stroke and periodontitis, including these:
  • Oral bacteria impact the heart. There are a number of different oral bacteria strains. Research suggests that some strains can enter the bloodstream and then attach to the fatty plaque in the coronary arteries. This bacteria then contributes to the formation of clots, putting you in grave danger.
  • Inflammation. Gum disease causes significant inflammation of the soft tissue in the mouth, elevating the white blood cell count and the highly sensitive c-reactive protein levels. Elevated levels of these proteins is a proven contributor to heart disease.
  • Infectious susceptibility. People with especially high oral bacteria levels often have a generally weak immune system and a less-than-adequate inflammatory response. This may induce specific vascular effects that have been shown to contribute to the onset of some kinds of heart disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment

dr paige woods ddsBecause periodontal disease is evidently a risk factor for stroke and heart disease, it is essential that you get immediate treatment.

First, the periodontist conducts a complete exam to determine the exact condition of gums, teeth and jawbone. This often includes x-rays to assess bone loss in the lower and upper jaw. Then, deep cleaning treatment including scaling and root planing to get rid of hardened tartar deposits from gum pockets is usually performed. You may also be prescribed an antibiotic to make sure all bacteria is destroyed completely and to ensure that the gum disease doesn’t spread.

If you have comments, uneasiness or any questions related to periodontal disease or overall oral and physical health, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS.