Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke
Periodontal disease is a serious progressive disease characterized by bacterial infection in the oral cavity and the colonization of bacteria above and below the gumline. Untreated periodontal disease can lead to deep pockets between the gums and teeth, the destruction of gum and bone tissue, and the pulling away of connective tissue from the teeth. In serious cases, teeth can shift, become loose, and fall out.
Studies show that periodontal disease is linked to many other health conditions including heart disease and stroke. Those with acute cerebrovascular ischemia are more likely to experience periodontal disease, and oral infection has also been proven to be a factor for stroke. Those with gum disease are also almost twice as likely as others to suffer from coronary heart disease.
In coronary heart disease, the walls of the coronary arteries become thicker due to a buildup of fatty proteins. Limited oxygen reaches the heart, and it becomes much harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. This leads to blood clots that obstruct normal blood flow and reduce the transport of vital nutrients, ultimately causing heart attacks.
How are heart disease and stroke linked to periodontal disease?
There are many theories about why those with periodontal disease are more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke, and vice versa. The main explanations are:
Inflammation – Periodontal disease creates inflammation and infection in the gum tissue which increases white blood cell count and C-reactive protein levels. These high-sensitivity proteins are linked to heart disease.
Infectious susceptibility – Individuals suffering from high levels of oral bacteria also likely have weak immune systems that struggle with host inflammatory response. Weak immune systems are linked to specific vascular effects which contribute to the onset of certain forms of heart disease.
Oral bacteria – Certain strains of periodontal bacteria have been proven to attach to the fatty plaques in the coronary arteries, contributing to clot formation and serious coronary heart problems.
How is periodontal disease treated?
In cases where the patient is suffering from both periodontal disease and coronary heart disease, or is likely to develop one or the other, periodontists may work alongside other doctors to ensure that all the patient’s conditions are being treated.
During the dental visit, the periodontist will examine the gums, teeth, and jawbone, and may use X-rays to determine whether bone loss is prevalent. A scaling and root planing procedure can remove the hardened calculus (tartar) deposits from the gum pockets, and prescribed antibiotics can destroy the periodontal infection. A proper oral care routine will be discussed at the end of the visit at Brooklyn Dentist so the patient can maintain their oral health at home.
If you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease and its relation to heart disease and stroke in Brooklyn, NY, please contact our office.