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May 30, 2010

Heart disease and gum disease

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Beliveau @ 5:47 pm

For many, heart disease and gum disease would seem like unrelated issues. However, evidence is emerging that has established a clear connection between the inflammation of gum disease and inflammation around the heart that can cause heart disease. Periodontal disease is caused by the accumulation of bacterial plaque around the teeth. If these bacteria remain around the teeth, they colonize and invade the connective tissues that are responsible for keeping your teeth firmly in place. Several things occur when this bacterial invasion takes place. First, these bacteria release toxins that destroy the connective tissues(gum and bone) causing bone loss and the formation of a periodontal pocket which creates a breeding ground for these bacteria. Secondly, the body mobilizes its defenses to fight these bacteria. It is the bodies defenses that creates an inflammatory response(like an infected splinter). An inflammatory response is marked by pain, swelling, redness, heat, bleeding and/or loss of function. Look at the mirror closely at your gums. Might you see any of these signs?

For many years, we have been aware of a link between gum disease and heart disease. Recently ,though, a study in the British Medical Journal has reported a clear link between heart disease and periodontal(gum) disease. More sobering, is that this link is present even when other risk factors such as smoking, heredity, obesity and socioeconomic factors are considered. It is unclear however, whether the link is due to systemic bacterial invasion or the bodies immune response to gum disease.

How do you avoid gum disease? Brushing 3 times per day, frequent flossing and regular visits to your dental team for professional cleaning and evaluation.

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