Studies have demonstrated that patients with gum disease are almost twice as likely to also suffer from coronary heart disease. Oral infections and gum disease are also risk factors for stroke. People who have experienced a stroke are very likely to also have periodontal disease, a progressive condition where gingival tissue surrounding the teeth becomes infected. The oral bacteria causing plaque builds up and accumulates, causing inflammation and big pockets around the teeth. This compromises the gum tissue, affecting tooth stability. In extreme cases, tooth and bone loss occur. Even worse, however, may be the affect on the arteries.
What’s the Connection?
If periodontal disease, heart disease and stroke are linked, why is this the case? The following explanations have been advanced by doctors.
- Oral bacteria may affect the heart by entering the bloodstream and connecting to, or helping to create, the fatty plaques that build up in blood vessels and arteries. Plaques that burst result in blood clots, increasing stroke and heart attack risk. Plaques also may grow to such a size that they block the flow of blood through the artery.
- Infected gum tissue causes inflammation as an immune response. The body then responds by making more white blood cells. A high white blood cell count is linked to greater sensitivity to C-reactive protein. And higher C-reactive protein levels are likewise linked to heart disease and higher risk of stroke.
- Toxins released by the bacteria can cause the immune system to damage or weaken the arterial walls. Damaged vessels are more likely to start growing plaques, while weakened arteries are more likely to burst or leak.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Periodontal Disease
Since periodontal disease appears to be a risk factor for both heart attack and stroke, it is extremely important to seek immediate treatment from the Sacramento Dentistry Group if you notice the first signs of gum infections. Our Sacramento dentists perform a thorough examination to assess the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone. X-rays are also taken to determine whether bone loss has occurred in the jaws. Solutions that have resolved many cases of gum disease are applied to the long-term benefit of our patients.
The dentists at the Sacramento Dentistry Group look forward to helping every patient enjoy the best health possible by starting with a healthy mouth. If you have periodontal disease, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation at our downtown location.