There’s a saying that every bone is connected to the next one in line that is why it is no wonder that there are studies and research connecting gum disease with heart disease and for health-conscious individuals here in Orange County, going to a periodontist and a cardiologist are enough assurance to keep both healthy!
Cardiologists and Periodontists are still debating on the link between dental health and heart health and the issue is still not resolved until now according to Dr. Robert Bonow, the past president of the American Heart Association and also the chief cardiologist at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University.
According to him, “There are threads of evidence, but they’re not yet tied together. If it’s true that people with poor oral health have more heart attacks, it doesn’t mean the poor oral health leads to them. People with good oral hygiene may just be taking better care of themselves.” In saying this, he means that we need to take good care of our oral health and exercise healthy habits to protect our heart too.
Why were the two diseases linked in the first place? There are two factors which gum disease and heart disease share in common according to Sam Low, DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology and associate dean in the College of Dentistry at the University of Florida. These are:
- The several types of bacteria found in gum disease is similar to what are found in heart disease. Dr. Low stated that, “The bacteria we find in gum disease we also find in blood vessels that are going through atherosclerosis.”
- Inflammation is also common between both illness. The level of C-reactive protein (CRP) increases with moderate to severe gum disease and its levels are also assessed in persons suffering from heart attacks.
So it is safe to say that we need to take care of both our oral health and heart health to prevent any risk factors. The joint report of Dr. Bonow and Dr. Low recommends that:
- Periodontists should inform patients with moderate to severe gum disease that they have risk factors in developing heart disease too.
- The patient’s periodontist and cardiologist should work together to reduce the patient’s risk of developing heart disease through proper periodontal care.
- Patients with heart disease or a high CRP level should go to a periodontist for an evaluation especially if they also show symptoms of gum disease.
The bottomline? Listen to what your periodontist here in Orange County has to say. Keep your gums healthy by brushing and flossing regularly and seek treatment immediately especially if you have a history of heart disease.
Healthy Teeth, Healthy Heart?, WebMD
Treating Gum Disease May Lessen the Burden of Heart Disease, Harvard Health Publications