Can Gum Disease Cause Heart Problems?

The Connection Between Plaques

Yes – can you imagine? A common thing such as gum disease might, in fact, cause heart problems. These two have been linked to each other for quite some time now, and the topic has become a focus of much research. Some studies actually strongly showcase the correlation between gum disease and heart problems. Others are still very cautious in their conclusions.

If you ever wondered if those swollen gums and pain could lead to something even more serious and are trying to find ways to avoid it from happening, keep reading this article.

How Can Infection Spread From Tooth To Heart?

There are a few theories that tackle the connection between cardiovascular disease and gum disease. For decades, people have tried to prove the connection and some studies, like the one from 2016 by the Journal of Dental Research, do contribute to the existing links between the two diseases.

According to Harvard Health, people with gum disease have a twice higher chance of developing heart disease and/or heart attacks than people who don’t deal with gum disease. However, the correlation is not 100% confirmed.

Still, there is something everyone agrees on – there are two main ways an infection can spread to the heart or affect it: through the bloodstream and because of a weakened immune system.

Through The Bloodstream

As we know, gum disease is, in simple terms, an infection of the gums that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. When an infection happens,

bacteria can travel through the bloodstream. This is because the gums are lined with capillaries, the blood vessels that transport nutrients and oxygen to your organs. That bacteria can get into the capillaries, traveling through your body and ultimately reach your heart. There, the bacteria will do the hard work, make a few toxins and cause heart issues.

The Immune System

The other way is for the bacteria to take advantage of an already weak immune system. When an infection happens, your body is trying to fight it and causes inflammation and fevers, triggering the immune system. That reaction can then trigger multiple damages to your other organs, including the heart.

Also, people with an already weakened immune system, like people fighting cancer or AIDS, are extra vulnerable because of their compromised immune system and can develop heart issues easier.

Read More: Things Your Dentist Wants You To Know

Gum Disease Symptoms

  • Swollen & red gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Bad breath
  • Buildup along the gum line
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth

How To Fix Gum Disease?

Gum disease won’t just go away you have to put in the work and control the infection. First, some deep cleaning has to be done by your dentist. You might also be prescribed antibiotics.  Root planing is another common treatment your dentist might try. In some cases, surgery is necessary

Read More: Fillings –  A Simple Way to Treat Receding Gums! 

To avoid gum disease:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, or after every meal and floss daily
  • Use a soft toothbrush
  • Don’t smoke
  • Go on regular dentist check-ups
Read More: How Can a Family Dentist Treat Gum Disease?

Heart Disease Symptoms

  • Chest pain & tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor circulation in your arms and/or legs
  • Pain in the upper body area

What Other Diseases Can Gum Disease Cause?

Other than heart disease, gum problems have been linked to causing other medical conditions as well. Gum disease, or periodontitis, might also cause respiratory diseases, problems with controlling blood sugar in diabetes, arthritis and coronary artery disease, according to this article.

The Link Between Poor Oral Health And High Blood Pressure

in 2018, the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension published a research paper which showed that people with healthier gums have lower blood pressure and respond better to that type of medication. On the other hand, people with periodontal disease had a 20% less chance of reaching a healthy blood pressure range.

If untreated, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.

Read More: Common Dental Issues For Older Patients

How To Prevent This From Happening?

By maintaining good oral health and practising a healthy lifestyle. As we always say, regular dental visits, flossing, brushing and avoiding certain food will help maintain great oral health. By doing that, you avoid plaque buildup, gum disease, inflammation, tooth decay, etc. And with that comes better overall health.

The Takeaway

Since inflammation can be linked to a number of things, it remains hard to prove that poor oral health and heart disease are exclusively linked.

However, more and more evidence is constantly showing up and backing up the theories. The connection is convincing enough for both dentists and doctors to encourage you to avoid gum disease. Either way – it pays off to pay attention to your oral health, even if the correlation is not 100% proven. Why risk having any kind of oral health problems and risk toothache? Book your check-up appointment today!

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