Dupage Dental Smiles (630) 393-2733 2 South 631 Rt. 59, Suite D Warrenville, IL 60555

Gum Disease, Heart Disease, and Stroke

The Possible Link Between Gum Disease, Heart Disease, and Stroke

At DuPage Dental Smiles, Dr. Bagai and his assistants are primarily concerned with your dental health, but they’re also very interested in your overall health as well. Consequently, in this article we want to explore the possible connection between gum disease, especially periodontitis, and heart disease and stroke.

Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis

These are the two basic types of gum disease, and the most common cause of both is the buildup of plaque on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque eat sugars in your mouth and release byproducts that can irritate the gums and cause inflammation.

Gingivitis is the milder of the two and is characterized by symptoms such as swollen, red gums, gums that bleed randomly, or gums that bleed when you brush or floss.

Treatment for gingivitis includes daily brushing and flossing, the use of an antiseptic mouthwash, and regular dental care, including cleaning of your teeth by a dentist or hygienist.

Without treatment, gingivitis can progress to the more serious form of gum disease, periodontitis. In addition to those listed above, the symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Bad breath
  • A buildup of hard brown deposits along the gum line
  • Loose teeth, teeth that are moving apart, or tooth loss
  • A change in the way dental appliances fit
  • Pain when chewing
  • Gums that are receding (pulling away) from the teeth

In addition to daily dental hygiene and regular visits to your dentist, treatment of periodontitis might also include deep cleaning, scaling, and root planing to remove plaque. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to rid your mouth of any remaining bacteria.

Infogrpahic – Difference between normal tooth and periodontitis

Gum Disease, Your Heart, and Your Brain

At first glance, it might appear that there’s little likelihood of a connection between gum disease and your heart or your brain. Research in recent years, however, has established that people suffering from gum disease are two to three as likely to also suffer from coronary disease. Further research has also found that people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia (restricted blood flow to the brain) often also suffer from some form of periodontal disease.

The connection between periodontal disease and heart disease and strokes is not absolute. Some individuals with gum disease have never had coronary disease or a stroke and conversely, some individuals suffering from these maladies do not have gum disease.

Nonetheless, there does seem to be a connection between gum disease on the one hand and heart disease and strokes on the other hand, and at least two possible explanations have been set forth by researchers.

  • Oral bacteria that affect the heart: Your mouth contains approximately 700 species of bacteria. Some researchers believe that some of these strains of bacteria enter the bloodstream and attach themselves to the fatty plaque in the coronary arteries, contributing to the formation of clots and heart attacks.
  • Inflammation: Periodontal disease leads to severe inflammation of the gum tissue. That inflammation, in turn, elevates the white blood cell count along with elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) produced by the liver. Your liver releases CRP into the bloodstream when you have inflammation in your body, and elevated levels of C-reactive proteins have been linked to heart disease.

Other Risk Factors

In addition to the spread of oral bacteria into the bloodstream and inflammation, other risk factors that possibly contribute to the link between gum disease and health issues with the heart and brain could include smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise. In other words, individuals who don’t take good care of their overall health are more likely to have poor oral and heart health and possibly an increased risk of suffering a stroke.

Help Available at DuPage Dental Smiles

While there is still much to be learned about the connection between gum disease, heart disease, and strokes, research to date points to a strong link between them. And that means that gum disease is not something to be taken lightly.

If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms we’ve described, we urge you to contact our clinic immediately to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bagai. After cleaning your teeth, Dr. Bagai will conduct a thorough examination of your teeth and gums and recommend a course of treatment going forward.

Please don’t delay. For the very best in dental care – from basic cleanings to restorative and cosmetic procedures, and periodontal care – we urge you to contact our clinic to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Bagai and become part of the DuPage Dental Smiles family.

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2 South 631 Rt. 59, Suite D
Warrenville, IL 60555

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