Periodontal disease and heart health: The link
It’s been reported that periodontal disease has a significant impact on the heart and the way it functions. Some may wonder why this is so, while many people are quite unclear about the uncanny relationship between the teeth and the heart. This article explains the concept of periodontal disease and spotlights how it affects cardiovascular health.
What Is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease or periodontitis is a severe gum infection, commonly referred to as gum disease. This infection affects a person’s dental structure by weakening or damaging the soft gum tissues and the bone that supports each tooth. It spreads across the entire gum with time and can easily lead to tooth loss if not promptly treated. While periodontitis is considered to be very lethal to the gum and surrounding tissues along the teeth area, it is curable and is also easily preventable.
According to dental professionals, periodontal disease can be caused by several factors, but it is most commonly a result of poor oral practices or a significant lapse in tooth care. So periodontitis can be prevented by simply brushing the teeth at least twice a day. Nevertheless, it is advisable to get dental check-ups from time to time to secure the health of the gums and teeth further.
Symptoms of periodontal disease
Gums are usually pink in colour and have a tight grip on the teeth, which mean periodontitis is not difficult to spot. Periodontal disease comes with several physical symptoms that make it easier to notice its early stages. The symptoms can include;
A noticeable change in the colour of the gum
Gums become puffy and begin to swell
Gums may start to bleed from time to time
Slight pain across infected areas while chewing
Pinkish colour on your toothbrush after brushing
Pus starts to gather within the infected area
Receding gums and seemingly longer teeth.
In most cases, the earliest symptom of periodontitis is the development of plaques. A plaque is a sticky particle around the teeth that consists mainly of bacteria. It is often formed when sugar and starch from food mix with the bacteria in the mouth, and it is best to consult a dental professional as soon as it is noticed.
Periodontitis and heart disease
Periodontal disease is known for the disastrous effect it has on the teeth and gums. However, this oral dysfunction is even more dangerous as it can directly affect the heart, causing inflammation and heart failure at its peak. And although scientists and researchers have made significant progress in identifying the effect of oral disease on the heart, the relationship between these two distant organs is still far-fetched to many individuals.
How does periodontal disease affect the heart?
Research over the last decade has proven that people with periodontal disorders are two or three times more likely to develop a serious cardiovascular problem, such as stroke or a heart attack. Although people with healthy teeth suffer from heart attacks, too, those with periodontitis face a greater risk, and here’s why.
Researchers suspect that the bacteria from the mouth of a periodontitis patient can travel through the organs and trigger inflammation in the heart by infecting the heart valves. Although some scientists have argued that the link between oral diseases and heart dysfunction is not direct, there is no doubt at all that periodontitis at its peak often precedes heart attacks and inflammation. Equally, people with infected heart valves experience a significantly higher risk of developing gum disease.
Regardless of this existing link between oral problems and several cardiovascular diseases, other studies have shown that not all periodontitis patients suffer heart problems. A significant number of people who suffer from periodontal diseases have testified that they live with a healthy heart, irrespective of their oral infection.
Other notable risks that periodontitis patients face include many organ infections such as respiratory system dysfunction, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, among others.
Prevention and control
The good news for periodontal disease patients is that the infection can be treated, which means that their higher risk of heart problems can be dismissed. Also, periodontitis can easily be prevented by practising healthy oral habits and ensuring that teeth are brushed at least two times daily. Regular dental visits can also help with identifying gum issues at their earliest stages, where the risk of damages is still minimal.
Whether the link between gum diseases and heart failure is direct or not, it is certainly not a coincidence that periodontal diseases affect the health of the heart. Hence, a better oral practice will not only help prevent tooth problems, but will also contribute to the reduction of the risk of heart diseases.
The editorial unit
The material contained in this article is of the nature of general comment only and does not give advice on medical or any particular matter. Recipients should not act on the basis of this article’s information without taking appropriate professional advice.