Healthy Gums, Healthy Heart

Your Oral Health Affects Your Heart

That doesn't seem right does it?

Well emerging research indicates a link between periodontal, or gum disease, and an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Everybody, either themselves directly or knows someone close to them, that has been affected by a heart attack or stroke. These occur when our blood vessels harden and sometimes release a clot that gets stuck in our brain (stroke) or in our heart (heart attack). If you, or someone you love, is at risk for heart disease, then good at home hygiene and regular check-up and cleanings should now be part of your heart disease prevention plan.

The exact reason why these two diseases are linked is unknown and studies are underway to figure this out. Two possible connections have been proposed. The first is the bacteria found in patients with gum disease is also found in the hardened arteries of patients with heart disease. It is believed that this bacteria travels from your mouth, through your blood and colonizes in your arteries and contributes to the swelling and eventual clotting of that artery. The second link between the two diseases is the one that makes the most sense to me. It states that longterm, generalized swelling creates a toxic environment in your blood that overtime contributes to the inflammation of the arteries that harden and clot causing heart attacks and strokes. Some of the main sources of chronic inflammation are the fatty tissues in the overweight and obese, periodontal disease, arthritis, and chronic sinus infections.

We are not saying that gum disease causes heart attacks and strokes. The best things you can do to combat these are to maintain a healthy weight, excersise regularly, quit smoking, and get checked for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, diseases are complex and the more we know the better we are at preventing these killers. If you are at risk for heart disease, your little toothbrush and that sting of floss could be huge.

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