Periodontal disease has been connected to a variety of health conditions, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and yes, heart disease. Over 80 million adults in the United States have some form of heart disease, and it’s one of the leading causes of death .
But when it comes to gum disease and heart disease, what exactly is the connection? Although research is ongoing, let’s take a closer look at how these two conditions can influence each other.
Gum Disease Can Increase Systemic Inflammation
Inflammation is natural in the body. In fact, without inflammation, wounds wouldn’t heal and the body wouldn’t be able to recover from illness. However, acute inflammation is different from chronic inflammation—the kind that can influence gum disease and heart disease .
Bacteria present in gum disease can travel through the body and increase inflammation around the heart, particularly in the vessels. It’s suspected that inflammation is the underlying common factor in both diseases, which may be partly caused by the bacteria and immune response seen in periodontal disease.
Periodontal Disease Is Associated With an Increased Cardiovascular Risk
If you have gum disease, you could be at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease . Periodontal disease has been suspected to moderately increase risk of heart disease, which makes caring for your teeth and gums even more important if you already have a family history of heart disease or have additional risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Although research isn’t conclusive, it’s possible that preventing gum disease and taking good care of your oral health could lower your risk for heart disease or a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke.
The Severity of Gum Disease May Increase Risk of a Heart Attack
New research shows that gum disease is significantly more common in fist-time heart attack patients compared to those who have not had a cardiovascular event . This means that having gum disease could put you at an increased risk for a heart attack. The research also showed that the severity of gum disease could influence the likelihood of developing heart disease in addition to experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
Take Care of Your Gums
Having healthy gums may help you have a healthier heart and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or experiencing a heart attack. Taking care of your gums and teeth is essential whether or not you’re at higher risk for heart disease, so keep those regular checkups with your dentist and continue to brush and floss your teeth at home!