Healthy Teeth for a Healthy Heart: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

You know the body is connected, but just how intertwined are the body’s responses? If you brush, floss, and keep your teeth in great condition, you might be on the right track for a healthy heart as well! Research has found links between the state of your mouth and your heart. People who suffer from gum disease or even the less serious gingivitis have up to a 200% higher chance of developing heart disease than those with healthy teeth. One study of 320 adults split the adults in half–half with heart disease and half without. The half with heart disease were more likely to have gum disease, bloody gyms, and tooth loss. While researchers have yet to figure out the exact connection, the link is there and it may be in your best interests to keep your teeth in tip-top shape.

Some types of bacteria normally occur in your mouth, but if you’re not properly flossing and brushing to remove plaque, your risk for gum disease increases. And once gum disease has developed, you create an environment for bacteria to flourish that do not normally grow in your mouth. Because gum disease causes your gums to bleed, bacteria can move into your bloodstream, setting up an inflammatory process in the blood vessels. The bacteria may increase your risk for heart disease by contributing to the formation of clots or further plaque build-up in your arteries that can interfere with blood flow to the heart. It will take long-term clinical trials, however, to more directly identify gum disease as a cause of heart disease. The answers may take time to come, but researchers are already starting to find possible links between gum disease and stroke, osteoporosis, diabetes, respiratory disease, and even preterm babies.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, half of all people over age 55 have gum disease. Gum disease is also the main reason people 35 and older lose their teeth. Your risk for gum disease increases as you get older, but can be reduced if you stay on top of your dental health, especially at an earlier age. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can help keep gum disease at bay.

If you happen to notice any of these symptoms, let your dentist know immediately — they could be triggers associated with gum disease.

  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen, tender gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pain while chewing

If you worry that you may have gum disease, call our office today. Checking in with your dentist can prevent not only tooth loss associated with gum disease, but also heart disease and body ailments not normally associated with the mouth.