Periodontal health impacts heart health

Periodontal health impacts heart health

By Megan Weisenberger, DMD
Weisenberger Dental
1017 Delta Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45207

February is Women’s Heart Health Month, and research and awareness of heart health issues are critical to helping prevent and treat heart disease. One area that continues to be researched is the connection between one’s periodontal (gum) health and their risk of heart disease.

Periodontal disease is the inflammatory process that occurs when plaque, which contains bacteria, is allowed to sit around the teeth and gums. The accumulation of this bacteria causes an inflammatory response from the body. This inflammatory response includes bleeding and swelling of the gums, and loss of alveolar bone around teeth, which can eventually lead to tooth loss.

Beyond having effects on the structures in the mouth, there are also connections between periodontal disease and certain chronic systemic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Inflammation is the key that connects periodontal disease and systemic diseases such as heart disease. One area of research that continues to be studied is the connection between inflammation from periodontal disease and its connection to inflammation with heart disease. When your arteries become swollen, blood has a harder time circulating through the body, which can cause heart attack or stroke. When one has periodontal disease, the inflammation below the gum line could allow the bacteria in the mouth to travel back to the heart. This can then lead to bacteria from the mouth getting into the arteries and heart causing more inflammation.

To prevent, diagnose and treat periodontal disease, regular dental cleanings and exams from your dental professional are necessary. By measuring the bone around your teeth and taking dental x-rays, your risk of periodontal disease can be determined and a plan for prevention or treatment can be established. Remember that your six-month dental cleanings and check-ups are the best way to prevent periodontal disease.