Gum Disease and Heart Disease: Discovering the Link
You probably know that brushing and flossing your teeth can help you prevent bad breath, cavities, and plaque. But, do you know that gum disease may affect your cardiovascular system? Well, that’s what most of the recent studies have found out. According to one particular study published in the 2005 edition of the journal Circulation, “taking good care of your teeth and gums could prevent you from having a stroke or heart attack.”
The link between gum disease and heart disease has actually been studied for years, but until now no concrete evidence can support the theory that gum disease can cause heart disease. But although the evidence is not clear and accurate yet, the concept is so interesting, intriguing, and so strong that thousands of people are to some degree convinced that it is really the case. Many experts in the medical field believe that gum disease and heart disease are connected in a way that the bacteria causing in periodontal disease can travel to the arteries and cause the arteries to swell and narrow, blocking the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. Once the arteries are narrowed and the blood carrying oxygen is blocked, heart attack may occur.
Because of such belief, many have claimed that people with gum disease have the chance to develop a heart disease almost twice as much as those who have no gum disease. The evidence for this connection between gum disease and heart disease is so strong that in 1998 the research studies that tackle the link between gum disease and heart disease were awarded with a $1.3 million grant by the National Institutes of Health.
The link between gum disease and heart disease is still currently being researched. But, unlike in the early days, several research groups are now doing the job. They basically conduct their studies based on the established theories about the connection of gum disease and heart attack. What these theories are? Consider the following:
* The bacteria in the mouth can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream and attached to the fatty plaques in the arteries. This will cause a clot formation in the heart’s blood vessels, then obstructing the normal blood flow and restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen needed for the heart to properly function.
* The inflammation in the mouth caused by gum disease may increase the accumulation of plaque, which in turn may swell the coronary arteries. Once the arteries are swollen, they will narrow and increase the risk of clots.
The theories, as you may notice, are very much compelling. But since there is still no concrete evidence to support the claims about the connection between gum disease and heart disease, perhaps the best way we can do now it to follow up the researchers and see how they go in their venture. There’s nothing wrong also with considering a healthy oral practice for even if gum disease isn’t actually causing heart disease, the connection between the two could still be important. A painful and bleeding gum is a notable symptom of heart disease, after all.