You’re probably aware that smoking, being overweight and having high cholesterol or high blood pressure levels can thwart a healthy body by putting you at increased risk for heart disease.
But, you may not know that healthy gums play a vital role in maintaining a healthy body, too. For a long time, we’ve known that periodontal disease, a bacterial infection, may contribute to infective endocarditis – a possibly fatal condition in which the interior lining of the heart and heart valves inflame due to a bacterial buildup. As such, patients with a history of rheumatic fever, mitral valve prolapse or heart murmur often require antibiotics prior to dental procedures as a protective measure.
Today, researchers suspect that periodontal diseases may be linked to far more than infective endocarditis, including the more common forms of heart disease that cause heart attack and stroke. Seem like a massive stretch? Well, normal tasks such as chewing or brushing can injure gum tissue and allow bacterial toxins to enter the bloodstream. Scientists now believe that these bacterial byproducts directly or indirectly cause an inflammation of the blood vessel wall, which results in blockage of an artery. This may be how your periodontal disease could lead to a heart attack.
Don’t let this information flow on in “vein”, because you or someone you know may be more at risk than you think… Patients with heart disease are clogging up hospitals, with more than 60 million Americans (one in four) having some form of the disease and nearly $300 billion spent annually on health care and lost productivity. These statistics coupled with the fact that one in three U.S. adults ages 30 to 54 have some form of periodontal disease, and a startling 50 percent of adults aged 55 – 90, build up to a potentially big problem.