Periodontal disease (“peri” meaning “around,” and “odont” meaning “tooth”) results in the destruction of the gums, bone, and periodontal ligaments. Everyone has different levels of bacteria in their mouth, and some bacteria people carry can cause an inflammation of the hums.
This inflammation is actually an immune system response by the body to fight infection caused by the bacteria, tartar, and plaque found in the mouth. If left untreated, this inflammation can ultimately lead to the destruction of the gums, bone, and periodontal ligaments — resulting in bone loss and eventual tooth loss.
[Related: The Importance of Brushing and Flossing]
Certain factors exist that are common to both periodontal and heart disease, which make some individuals susceptible to both types of disease. Inflammation is a very primary way that the body responds to both trauma and disease.
Not everyone’s immune system reacts the same way. Depending on the way an individual’s immune system responds to specific types of bacteria, it will change the occurrence and severity of the inflammation present. So what does that have to do with cardiovascular disease?
Evidence exists that associate this type of inflammatory response with changes in blood vessels that cause both cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Several studies support the relationship of periodontitis to these cardio and cerebro-vascular diseases.
Bacteria from inflamed gum tissues associated with periodontal disease enter into the bloodstream through the oral tissues, which lead straight to the heart and brain (as well as other organs in the body).
Researchers are now evaluating whether the treatment of periodontal disease has an effect on the progress of cardiovascular disease. Initial results indicate that treatment of periodontitis does reverse damage to blood vessel linings. The next step is to confirm whether improvement in blood vessel function will reduce the occurrence of stroke or heart disease.
We know moderate to severe periodontitis does appear to increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease. We believe that reducing inflammation in the periodontal tissues may affect the progression and advancement of cardiovascular disease and its outcomes. We cannot say, however, that periodontitis actually causes heart disease.
If you want a healthy heart and body, you should practice good oral hygiene to reduce bacteria, schedule regular visits for exams and cleaning with your dentist, and incorporate good diet and exercise. These are all necessary life changes for good cardiovascular health. The healthier you keep your mouth and body, the better your chances of reducing your risk for both periodontal, and heart disease.
Contact Cascadia Dental Specialists today to schedule an appointment and start your journey toward good health!