Scientists have been studying the connection between dental health and heart disease for many years. Some studies seem to confirm an association or connection, however, others do not. More research is needed to definitively prove the connection. Let’s review the studies and why many believe there is an association between the two.
Association vs. Causation
Researchers continue to study this association between dental health and other heart diseases, but many still do not completely accept that one directly causes the other.
They do agree there are links like the following:
- Someone with moderate to advanced stages of gum disease is at a higher risk for heart disease.
- A person’s oral health can provide a physician with warning signs for many diseases, including heart disease.
Bacteria in the mouth from gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis can spread to all parts of the body via the bloodstream. When bacteria enters the heart, it causes inflammation. The Mayo Clinic tells us that this inflammation can result in endocarditis which is an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart.
Similarly, the American Heart Association says that this inflammation can lead to atherosclerosis or clogged arteries. When the arteries develop plaque buildup which hardens, there is an increased risk of stroke.
Another study of people who had both gum disease and heart disease concluded that those who received proper care of gum disease had cardiovascular care costs 10 to 40% lower than those who didn’t get proper oral care.
A recent article reviewed several other studies which concluded that there is a link between the two. Gum disease increases a person’s risk of heart disease by 20%.
Signs Of Gum Disease
The common signs of gum disease include swollen red gums, bad breath, bleeding gums, pain while chewing, receding gums, sunken teeth, and loose teeth. You don’t necessarily have gum disease if you have one or two of the above symptoms. Manhattan Dental Arts will do more tests to diagnose gum disease.
Additional Health Risks From Poor Dental Health
Besides heart disease, there are other health problems associated with gum disease. They include the following:
- Respiratory disease like pneumonia
- Some cancers like kidney, pancreatic, and blood cancers
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What’s The Answer?
No one has conclusively proved if there is a connection between dental health and heart disease as yet. What is conclusive is that oral health is an indicator of overall health. Taking care of your teeth and preventing oral health problems like gingivitis and periodontal disease will decrease the risks for more serious health problems. More research is needed.
In the meantime, regular brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist for cleanings and checkups is the optimum choice.
Contact Manhattan Dental Arts at (212) 247-2330 for treatment if you suspect you have some type of gum disease.