From Your Gums to Your Heart
Did you know that the health of your gums affects the health of your heart?
Periodontal disease is an infectious disease in the gum tissue and bone surrounding the teeth in the mouth. The infection is created by an overload of disease-causing bacteria. Bacteria are always present in the mouth. However, the key to having a healthy mouth is keeping that bacteria in balance. This means having enough of the good bacteria present to keep the bad bacteria at minimal levels or not present at all. In order to achieve this balance, active participation of the patient in-home care as well as a healthy diet is required. This includes a good home care regimen, for example, brushing the teeth twice a day with an electric toothbrush, preferably ultrasonic, and cleaning at least once a day in between the teeth with dental floss or a water pic. It also includes having a diet low in sugar and acid, both of which create an environment for bacteria to thrive. In addition, periodontal disease does have a genetic component. So it’s important to know if the periodontal disease runs in your family in order to be even more diligent with preventive care.
The connection between periodontal disease and overall health has been known for years. However, the degree of connection is becoming more and more prominent as the research continues to support it. The link between periodontal disease and heart disease and stroke risk is so prominent that cardiologists have been instructed in the American Journal of Cardiology to refer patients to their dentists for care, especially in the presence of inflamed or bleeding gums. The leading researchers of preventive heart attack and stroke health, Dr. Bradley Bale and Dr. Amy Doneen, state that, “People with infected gums are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks as those with healthy gums.” Where is the connection between the gums and the heart? Through the bloodstream.
It is very interesting to note that people with gum disease have double the amount of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) in their bloodstream as those people who have healthy gums. This LDL cholesterol works with the disease-causing bacteria from the mouth, leading to inflammation within the artery wall. The high-risk oral bacteria travel from the mouth into the bloodstream and settle in the arteries of the heart where they create inflammation which can lead to atherosclerosis. They do this by producing chemicals that cause the breakdown of the artery wall itself, making it easier for bad cholesterol to invade that artery wall. This bacteria can only come from the mouth! We don’t take it lightly when we tell our patients that regular care at a dental office can literally save their life!
At Origin Dental Wellness, we take a microscope slide of your plaque to visibly look for any of these high-risk oral bacteria. If we see any of them swimming around on your microscope slide, we order a salivary diagnostic test, which actually counts the number of disease-causing bacteria present in the saliva sample. This is done in order to develop the protocol to annihilate the bacteria, and therefore, get the coronary arteries back on track to health. So when you have an appointment to have your teeth cleaned, we are actually looking into how clean your arteries are as well!