Heart Disease & periodontal disease
Can your mouth tell health professionals if you’re at risk for heart disease? Some studies say, yes. Having gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%, according to a 2016 study by the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. While the American Heart Association says there’s a strong link between gum disease and heart disease, it’s still unclear whether one actually causes the other. Regardless, the two conditions share some of the same risk factors like smoking, poor nutrition and diabetes.
The surprising link between Heart & & Teeth
The study references the American Journal of Medicine, which reports that people who use plaque-targeting toothpaste brush their teeth more thoroughly, lowering their levels of heart-attack triggering inflammation.
Even for those who are already diagnosed with heart disease, good oral health may play a role in living longer. Tooth loss has been connected to a higher risk of stroke and even death in heart disease patients. When compared to those with the disease who still have their teeth, those who do not show a great risk for several health problems, including:
- 67% higher risk of stroke
- 81% higher risk of all causes of death
- 85% higher risk of cardiovascular death
- 27% higher risk of major cardiovascular events
- A heart disease patient’s risk for the health challenges above rises about 6% for each tooth lost, the study concludes.
How Does Gum Disease Affect My Heart?
It does seem odd to think the health of your gums in any way directly related to your heart’s condition, but doctors say it’s possible. Bacteria cause gum infection, and that same bacteria can get into your bloodstream, attach to blood vessels, and increase your risk to cardiovascular disease. Once it’s in your bloodstream, the bacteria can also spike your C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation in the blood vessels, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Gum disease, however, can be hard to detect because so often there are no symptoms.
Symptoms Of Gum Disease
Warning signs of gum disease are often rare, but the even in the early stages, some symptoms are possible:
- Red, swollen gums
- Painful to floss or brush
- Gums bleed easily when you floss or brush
- Gums appear to be pulling away from teeth
- Constant bad breath
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Brushing, flossing, and avoiding foods loaded with sugar are good steps toward a healthy smile.