Gum disease and heart disease

The oral cavity is full of bacteria and they get deposited on our teeth in form of plaque. But this plaque may lead to formation of another type of plaque in the arteries and cause their hardening which, in medical terms is known as, atherosclerosis. 

The plaque in your mouth does not precisely cause atherosclerosis, but the bacteria in the plaque trigger the immune system leading to infiltration of the gums by immune cells. Your gums are very vascular i.e. they have an abundance of blood vessels. Hence even a small amount of plaque will cause the blood vessels to swell thus leading to the swelling of gums which, in dental terms, is known as gingivitis. It is seen as bleeding and sore gums. 

An elderly disabled couple with their caretaker in the garden
outside of a private rehabilitation clinic.

Now, gingivitis is not such a big problem as is periodontitis which is an advanced form of gum disease characterised by pus formation in gums and formation of gum pockets. Gingivitis will progress into periodontitis if not treated in time and this periodontitis is what that leads to heart disease since at this stage the barrier between blood and bacteria is breached and thus bringing the bacterial load of mouth into your blood stream. 

Once the bacteria have access to the blood flow, they reach every organ of your body including heart. There they get deposited in the arteries leading to their hardening and thus atherosclerosis. In fact, they may also form colonies in the valves of your heart thus causing another heart disease called endocarditis. 

But before you panic, know that, both gingivitis and periodontitis are treatable and in fact preventable. Regular brushing and flossing will prevent accumulation of plaque in the first place. And even if there is a deposition of plaque, the routine visit to your dentist will solve the future complications by timely intervention by a simple treatment of scaling. However, periodontitis will require a more rigorous approach and you will have to undergo scaling with root planning accompanied by antibiotic medications. 

In any case, oral health should not be ignored and routine visits to the dental healthcare professional should be done timely. Good oral hygiene practices go a long way in benefitting your overall health. Remember, healthy gums lead to a healthy heart. 

So, good oral hygiene practices go a long way in maintaining your overall health.

Have more questions? Book an appointment or call us at (754) 225-1001 to have them all answered and have your peace of mind.