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Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

Periodontal Disease, Stroke and Heart Disease may appear to be unrelated, but according to researchers, those who suffer from gum disease have a 200% chance of also suffering from heart disease. Also, research has revealed that oral infection remains a risk factor for stroke. Sufferers of acute cerebrovascular ischemia are also likely to have periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that occurs as a result of the gingival tissue being infected by the colonization of bacteria.  Bacteria found in plague will first colonize the above, and then below the gum line, making the tissue to separate from the teeth. If periodontal disease is not treated, there is a formation of deep pockets between the teeth and the gum; the tissues of the jawbone are destroyed too. If the bone tissues are destroyed, the teeth will start, shifting, wobbling, and will eventually detach from the bone.

Coronary heart disease is a condition that occurs as a result of the coronary artery walls becoming thicker due to fatty proteins build up. The heart then has to labor extremely hard to pump blood to the whole body due to a lack of oxygen. Sometimes, sufferers of coronary heart disease experience blood clots which impede blood flow and causes oxygen and nutrients to be unavailable to the heart. This condition often causes heart attacks.

Reasons for the Connection

It is almost certain that existing heart conditions can be worsened by the presence of periodontal disease. The periodontist usually works hand in hand with the cardiologist to treat people suffering from both conditions.

There are lots of theories that explain the connection between stroke, heart disease, and periodontal disease, and these include:

  • Oral bacteria affect the heart – periodontal bacteria exist in various strains. Researchers say that some of these bacteria strains gain access to the bloodstream, attaching to the fatty plaque in the coronary arteries. This then causes blood to clot and puts the individual in great danger.
  • Inflammation – Periodontal disease results in the inflammation of gum tissue which increases the white blood cell count, as well as the high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels. Research has established that increased C-reactive protein levels are connected to heart disease.
  • Infectious susceptibility – people with high levels of oral bacteria may have an inadequate host inflammatory response as well as a weaker immune system. These factors may trigger certain vascular effects which are known to be contributing factors in the onset of some heart diseases.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Since periodontal disease tends to contribute to both stroke and heart attack, it is crucial to seek treatment immediately. First, the periodontist will carry out comprehensive test to understand the exact conditions of the gums, teeth, and jawbone. X-rays can reveal whether there are traces of tooth loss in the lower or upper jaw.

The dentist can carry out deep cleaning treatments such as root planing and scaling to remove tartar from the gum pockets. An antibiotic may be administered to destroy the bacterium and prevent the spread of the periodontal infection. Most of the time, one can prevent periodontal disease by practicing good and regular home care.

For concerns or questions about how periodontal disease relates to stroke and heart disease, please contact our office.

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