Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gum Disease and the Heart

     Gum disease exists in about 80% of the population and is one of many risk factors associated with serious health concerns, such as heart disease. Researchers have found that people with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease. This type of heart disease occurs when deposits of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other materials known as plaques form in the walls of the coronary arteries making them thicker. This limits the amount of oxygen and nutrients needed for the heart to function because blood cannot flow through the arteries easily.

     It is believed that bacteria from gum disease enters the bloodstream and connects to the plaques in the coronary arteries and causes blood clots to form. The bacteria from gum disease enter the bloodstream through compromised, infected gum tissue. Researchers have identified two oral pathogens associated with gum disease, known as Tannerella Forsynthesis and Preventella Intermedia, which may be associated with an increased risk of having a heart attack. The more of these pathogens that are present in the mouth the higher the risk; this is why it’s important to limit the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

     Patients with existing heart problems are at a greater risk if they also have gum disease. Bacterial endocarditis is a dangerous infection that involves the lining of the heart and is commonly caused when bacteria enters the blood during medical procedures. During dental treatment, a common organism found in the mouth known as Streptococcus Viridan can enter the bloodstream through the mouth and travel to the heart. This then causes blood clot formations that are able to travel to the brain, lungs, kidney, and spleen. This can result in dangerous medical conditions such as, blood clots, stroke, heart valve damage, irregular heartbeats, and arterial fibrillation. Patients with preexisting heart conditions are often prescribed pre-medications before dental treatment to prevent endocarditis from occurring.

     Treating and preventing gum disease is the safest way to avoid problems with the heart associated with gum disease. A dentist can help aid in keeping the mouth clean and healthy which in turn lowers the risk of future heart problems.

Visit Paducah Dental Care to learn more!