After two decades of research, it has been firmly established that an association exists between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease according to the American dental association. Scientists believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is caused when bacteria in plaque (a sticky, colorless film that forms in the mouth) builds up between the gums and teeth. When the bacteria begin to grow, the gums surrounding the tooth can become inflamed.
What Is Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)?
Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart's muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. By the time heart problems are detected, the underlying cause (atherosclerosis) is usually quite advanced. Therefore, prevention through the modification of risk factors, such as healthy eating, exercise and not smoking is key.
A recent study examined the presence of bacteria known to cause periodontitis and the thickening of the blood vessel wall commonly seen in heart disease. The investigators concluded that an increased level of blood vessel thickening was associated with the presence of the same bacteria found in dental plaque known to cause periodontitis.
Treatment should focus on the prevention of periodontal disease and oral inflammation, which is essential in controlling the oral complications associated with cardiovascular disease.
Brush your teeth. Brushing after meals helps remove food debris and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums including the tongue.
Floss. Flossing at least once a day helps remove food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gum line that your toothbrush can't quite reach.
Swish with mouthwash. Using a mouthwash can help reduce plaque and can remove remaining food particles that brushing and flossing missed.
Know your risk. Age, smoking, diet and genetics can all increase your risk for periodontal disease. If you are at increased risk, be sure to talk with your dental professional.