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What Precautions can be taken Preventing Periodontal Disease that Risk a Heart Attack

Periodontal (“Perio” refers to teeth 2) disease (Periodontitis / Gum Disease 1) occurs when bacteria infects the structures that hold teeth in place including the gums and bones. 3 Bacteria is pass-through in the mouth’s saliva, accumulates to form “plaque”. 1 “An estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of the disease.” 3 Three of four people after the age of 35 have some degree of periodontal disease. 17

When brushing and flossing is not done frequently “plaque’ (sticky and colorless) accumulates on the teeth, eventually builds – up (calcifies) and hardens into tarter (calculus). When tarter accumulates and especially below the gum, requires visiting dental professional or hygienist to remove the calculus and stop the periodontal disease. Periodontitis symptoms include slight bleeding when brushing the teeth, gums appear pink color or more reddish, gums get soft, seldom pain or sensitive teeth and persistent bad – breath (17). 4 The first stage of gum disease is Gingivitus: “The bacteria causes inflammation of the gums (bleeding) that is called “gingivitis”. Daily brushing and visit to the dentist or hygienist clears away the bacteria accumulation. When gingivitis is not treated, gums recess and form pockets where infection can develop as plaque accumulates, below the gum line, referred to as periodontitis. The severity of the periodontitis can lead to a loss of teeth or require to be extracted. Most prominently gum disease caused by smoking. During the treatment of periodontitis, tobacco smoking inhibits the medical care. Also, risk factors for developing gum disease include: Diabetes, adverse reaction to medication, illnesses, genetic link, and hormonal changes in (girls) women. “Men are more likely to have periodontal disease than women.” 3 Periodontal Disease is linked to cause heart disease. 5

For a long time, researchers have theorized periodontal disease linked to coronary artery disease or heart attack. Recent studies have proven the theory to be correct. 6 “Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are nearly twice as likely to suffer from heart disease as those without periodontal disease.” 5 A group study, confirmed men under 50 with periodontitis had nearly twice the risk for developing coronary heart diseases, compared to men who had moderate or no periodontal disease. Individuals with less severe form of periodontal disease (gingivitis) had about 25% risk of death from coronary heart disease and those who had no teeth had about 50% risk of dying. 15 Fatty proteins accumulate in coronary arteries, clogging the flow of blood. When blood is totally obstructed from traveling through a coronary artery, a heart attack is likely. 6 Plaque accumulation in a coronary artery increases faster from periodontal disease, as the bacteria in the mouth enters the blood stream and attaches to the fatty plaques already present in the heart vessels. 5

Published study in the Journal of Periodontology (2002), gum disease released higher levels of bacterial pro-inflammatory components, such as endotoxins. 7 The bacteria travels through the bloodstream increasing the probability for developing heart disease, stroke, preterm births, respiratory disease, uncontrolled diabetes or begin new infections within organs of the body. 8 During the study, researchers examined blood samples of 67 patients after chewing gum: Participants diagnosed with severe to moderate periodontitis and those who had no periodontal disease. Researchers discovered elevated harmful bacteria products in the blood of those who had severe periodontal disease. A University of Buffalo study discovered the bacterial components in periodontal disease enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver, producing elevated C-reactive proteins (CRP). 7 “People with elevated CRP levels are four and one-half times more likely to have a heart attack, compared with people who have normal levels of the protein.” 9 During a news conference at the annual American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans (2000) presented a study: Heart disease survivors who experienced gum disease, showed elevated levels of C-reactive protein, risk a second heart attack. 16 Other health concerns including cancer, smoking, and strokes are associated with elevated C-reactive proteins. 9 Treating severe gum disease would likely reduce CRP levels and prevent a pending heart attack. 16

German researchers report increased number of periodontal pockets deeper than four millimeters correlated to elevated fibrinogen levels (protein – blood-clotting factor 14) , corresponding to an increase risk of heart disease and stroke. The researchers studied 1276 men and 1462 women, 20 – 59 years old with periodontal pockets. Studied participants who had more than 15 periodontal pockets, eighty-eight percent more likely to have elevated level of fibrinogen (above 325 mg/dL), balancing aside the other known factors that affect fibrinogen levels. “The use of aspirin, on the other hand, was associated with lower fibrinogen levels.” 12

Blood tests can detect elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen: “have now been correlated with a significantly increased risk of future heart attacks.” 13

Preventing periodontal disease critical than risking heart disease, fortunately is preventable. According to a large population based study, not brushing teeth twice a day, could lead to seventy percent increase risk for cardiovascular disease (published online May 27, 2010 – British Medical Journal). 11 Good oral hygiene is essential. Good nutrition supports healthy gums. Regularly scheduling routine dental check-ups and cleanings (roots of the teeth called scaling), ensures preventing gum disease. Antibiotics or medication maybe prescribed to lower the risk of bacteria in the mouth. 10


1.) Periodontal Disease – What it is, what causes it, and what do about it. – http://www.themouthdoctor.com/

2.) Periodontal Disease: Causes and Prevention – http://www.colgate.com/app/Colgate/US/OC/Information/OralHealthBasics/CommonConcerns/GumDisease/CausesAndPrevention.cvsp

3.) Periodeontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments – http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm

4.) Periodontal Disease – http://www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/topics/periodontal_disease.htm

5.) Periodontal Disease Heart Disease – http://www.oramd.com/periodontal-disease-heart-disease.htm

6.) The Link Between Heart Disease and Periodontal Disease – http://www.themouthdoctor.com/periodontaldisease/2-heartperiodontaldiseasese.htm/

7.) New Study Confirms Periodontal Disease Linked to Heart Disease – http://www.perio.org/consumer/bacteria.htm

8.) Periodontal Disease Fact Sheet – http://www.perio4u.com/perio.htm

9.) What is C-Reactive Protein? – http://www.drkaslow.com/html/c-reactive_protein.html

10.) Periodontal Disease and Heart Health – http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/periodontal-disease-heart-health?page=3

11.) Failure to brush your teeth twice a day increases risk of heart disease – http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=failure-to-brush-your-teeth-twice-a-2010-05-27

12.) Periodontal disease and fibrinogen levels – http://www.yourhealthbase.com/database/a151c.htm

13.) C-reactive protein and fibrinogen – Newer risk factors for coronary artery disease – http://heartdisease.about.com/library/weekly/aa110400a.htm

14.) Biologists link periodontal disease, clotting factor, heart disease – http://www.designerdentist.com/html/article4.htm

15.) Gum Disease and Heart Attack – http://www.dentalwellness4u.com/dentaldisease/attack.html

16.) New Research Finds Link Between Gum Disease, Acute Heart Attacks – http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/11/001113071724.htm

17.) Gum Disease May Relate to Heart Attack Risk – http://www.ederdds.com/gum_disease_and_heart_attacks.htm