The connection between heart and gum disease

We all know practicing good oral hygiene daily has huge benefits on preventing decay and gum disease as well as keep our breath fresh. But it is becoming clearer that a healthy mouth can actually lead to a healthy heart. The mouth has been considered the gateway to the body and more evidence suggests this is true.

Research suggests that periodontal disease is linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, strokes and premature births. Periodontal disease may be the reason for your bleeding gums. Simply put healthy gums should not bleed. So what is the connection between healthy gums and the heart? The answer is inflammation!

Inflammation is the normal response our body has to injury or infection and it is how we repair damaged tissue. When the gums bleed and are constantly infected with periodontal disease the inflammation process is constant. The body is trying to fight against pathogenic bacteria deep in the pockets of the gums causing significant bone destruction and tissue loss.  Many people with gum disease also have atherosclerosis, which is plaque buildup in the walls of arteries. Both are closely related to inflammation. Experts still don’t fully understand the link and researchers are not sure if the inflammation in the gums causes inflammation in the arterial walls. However, experts still recommend treating gum disease no matter what. More long term studies are needed to fully understand this link but it has become clear these inflammatory processes are related.

So what can you do to get your gums and heart in shape? Exercise regularly, give up smoking, limit sugar consumption and stay at a healthy weight. Of course maintain excellent oral hygiene habits and visit the dentist regularly for exams and cleanings.