The Link Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease

 In Gum Disease

Your Shreveport Dentist Explains The Link Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in America, but not a lot of awareness is raised about it. Heart disease kills more women every year than breast cancer, but people don’t find it quite as alarming. This is probably because heart disease is preventable, but it doesn’t negate the fact that more should be done toward research and education regarding this.

What is cardiovascular disease?

Any blockage in our vessels is cardiovascular disease (CVD). There are two kinds of cardiovascular events: stroke and heart attack. They’re basically the same thing; they just occur in different parts of the body – a stroke, in the brain, and a heart attack, in the heart.

What causes the blockage?

Three things are responsible:

  • Plaques (cholesterol that built up in the veins and arteries) that have entirely closed a vessel.
  • Plaques from the vessels that have broken free.
  • Blood clots.

People tend to think that the amount of blockage is the key predictor of a cardiovascular event, but it really depends on how much inflammation there is in the vessel. A vessel that’s 75 percent blocked is less dangerous than one that’s only 25 percent blocked but is inflamed.

An inflamed vessel is sticky, so bad cholesterol gets stuck in it. The more that cholesterol gets stuck, the more inflamed the vessel becomes. This all leads to a downward spiral.

Where does inflammation come from?

Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most common forms of chronic inflammation. Your Shreveport dentist would like you to take note that the plaque in our mouth is different from the plaque in our vessels. It is made up of bacteria, which rapidly grow and reproduce. Plaque is what we brush and floss off our teeth, but if some of it gets left behind, it hardens into a solid splinter purely composed of germs. The presence of these germs trigger a cascade event from the body’s immune system. Our body works to kill the germs, but in the process, the gums and bones also get affected and experience inflammation.

How is oral health related to CVD?

It has been found that most plaque in the carotid artery has the same bacteria found in periodontal disease. This shows that the bacteria and inflammation in our mouth don’t stay there. They make their way around the body. This explains the link between heart disease and gum disease.

In a study conducted by the American Heart Association where they took the blockages out of patients who suffered a heart attack, they found that the blockages had the exact same bacteria that cause dental cavities and gum disease. With half of the patients having a cavity, the conclusion made is that 50 percent of heart attacks could be triggered by an infection in the mouth. For this reason, the American Association of Cardiology and the American Association of Periodontology put out a statement saying that doctors and dentists should warn their patients with periodontitis of their potential for CVD. This further reinforces the link between heart disease and gum disease.

If you are looking for a dentist in Shreveport, don’t hesitate, contact Dr. Ben Kacos today!

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