Understanding the Link between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

The link between gum disease and heart problems is well known. One study found that 11,000 people who didn’t brush their teeth twice a day were at increased risk for heart disease. But until recently, the question still remained whether gum disease was just a marker for one’s well-being. Now scientists are closer to understanding why people with gum disease may have a higher risk of developing heart disease.

Gum Disease Causes Sticky Platelets

Medical researchers from Britain and Ireland are finding that the bacteria that gum disease causes can get into the blood stream via open sores in the gums and create a harmful clot-forming protein called PadA. Streptococcus is the bacteria that causes tooth plaque and gum disease, and apparently it can also make blood platelets sticky.

The researchers say this leakage of bacteria into the blood stream causes a dangerous clotting effect, which could lead to heart valve growths and inflamed blood vessels that may disrupt blood circulation to the heart and brain. More work is underway to determine if there is a way to block the platelet-activating function of PadA.

Meanwhile, preventing gum disease – and maybe even reducing your risk for heart disease – requires daily brushing, flossing and regular checkups with your dentist for oral cleanings. A healthy diet, free of sugary foods and beverages is also recommended for the healthiest gums and teeth.

And when it comes to heart health in general, nutritious food, not smoking and daily exercise can go a long way in reducing your risk of developing heart disease.

To learn more about what gum disease causes or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Henshaw to discuss gum disease and heart health, please call Oregon Periodontics today.