Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke
Periodontal disease is linked to serious health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. The beginning of gum disease is marked by bleeding gums during procedures such as brushing or flossing. If gum disease is left untreated for a long time, the disease causing bacteria may enter the blood circulation and result in various health problems.
There exists a strong link between gum disease and heart health.
- Gum inflammation and coronary artery disease: Various theories suggest that gum inflammation may be linked to the production of arterial plaque (deposits into the walls of arteries). This plaque is a result of deposits such as fats, cholesterol and calcium into the arterial walls. The plaque thickens and hardens the arterial walls thereby decreasing the hearts blood pumping capacity and reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients for proper functioning of the heart.
- Gum infection and stroke: Bacteria present in the mouth in patients with gum disease can have a strong impact on the health of your heart. Bacteria may enter the blood circulation during certain dental treatment procedures causing a serious condition called bacterial endocarditis (inflammation of heart muscles).
Individuals with existing or previous heart disease should inform the dentist about their condition before undergoing any dental procedures. In such cases, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before a dental procedure to prevent bacteria traveling to the heart. These bacteria can form infected blood clots which can then travel to organs such as the brain, lungs or kidney and may result in stroke, blood clots in various organs, damaged heart valves or irregular heartbeats.
You can also prevent gum infections by brushing and flossing daily, and having regular dental examinations and professional cleaning done.