Heart disease has already been shown to have a link to high cholesterol, obesity, smoking etc. but recently some studies have also confirmed a relation between gum disease and heart disease. One such study confirmed that people with periodontal disease are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. If untreated it may destroy the attachment fibers and the bone supporting the teeth. As a result the gums separate from teeth and form pockets that fill with plaque and even more bacterial infection.
According to the researchers the bacteria from the site of infection may pave their way into the blood stream. The harmful bacterial components in the blood may travel to other vital organs such as heart and harm them. Researchers also suggest that these bacterial components may cause the liver to produce proteins that trigger inflammation in the arteries and clotting of blood. In fact, during the study it was observed that people with periodontal disease had high levels of one such protein called C-reactive protein (CRP), which is an important predictor of heart disease. CRP can cause inflammation in the arteries. In addition, these effects may cause atherosclerosis (deposition of fat on the inner wall of the blood vessels) and blood clots that contribute to blocking of arteries leading to heart attack.
What to do? As gum disease can have an important implication on heart it is important to recognize the warning signs of periodontal disease and consult the doctor immediately. These include:
- Red, swollen, painful gums
- Bleeding of gums on brushing the teeth
- Gums separated from teeth
- Pus between teeth and gums when teeth are pressed
- Persistent bad breath
How to manage?
- Maintain proper oral hygiene
- Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
- Brush your teeth gently to avoid any bleeding.
- Properly rinse your mouth after each meal.
- Avoid sweets, starchy food, very hot and very cold things.
- Go for regular dental checkups (at least twice a year or as advised).