Gum and Heart Health

Gum Disease Spreads Bacteria into the Arteries

In his Heart Health Report for October 2011 (vol. 2 Issue 10), Chauncey Crandall, MD, a cardiac surgeon, points out among other factors, the importance of good oral health as it relates to the potential to maintain a healthy heart.

Seldom do cardiologists look inside their patients’ mouths. Although we do not know exactly how gum disease affects the heart, we believe we are getting closer to the mechanism of cause and effect.

All humans have millions of bacteria living in their mouths. When a person has gum disease, these bacteria enter the bloodstream through open sores in the gum tissues. The bacteria then adhere to plaque in the coronary arteries, causing the narrowing and inflammation to become worse.

Understanding the body’s inflammatory response to localized inflammation, helps us to visualize the bigger picture as well. When we has gum disease, the body is in a chronic, inflammatory state due to the generalized circulation of these specific enzymes which contribute to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques within the blood vessels.

In addition, when our arteries become inflamed, it’s more likely that newly formed, soft plaque will rupture or break away and create a blood clot that blocks an artery completely, leading to a heart attack.

So being attentive to our teeth is critical in order to protect us from heart disease! This means brushing your teeth after every meal, flossing daily, and regularly visiting the dentist