Although studies are still being conducted, many have already shown a strong link between oral health and heart disease. This link is primarily due to a condition referred to as periodontitis, which results from improper oral hygiene. Indicative of infection in the gums and surrounding tissues, periodontitis has several stages. The first of which is the condition known as gingivitis. Symptomatic of plaque and bacteria buildup along the gum line, gingivitis causes inflamed gums that are red in color, sensitive to the touch, and often bleed easily. Although, even the beginning stages of perodontitis are enough to bring about detriments in heart health, progression of the disease poses an even greater risk.
Despite that smoking, diabetes, diet, and obesity also have direct ties to both the development of heart and gum disease, a tie that many believe skew direct correlative associations, other factors have been found to support the forthright association. Gum disease creates a condition in which bacteria in the mouth makes it way into the blood stream. This factor alone creates adverse conditions in the heart and arteries. However, the inflammation of the gums and bacteria in the blood also necessitates an immune response that initiates the release of C-reactive protein, a substance released when disease is present. While the presence of bacteria in the blood contributes to inflammation of the heart and blood pathways, C-reactive protein also has the same affect.
When the artery walls become irritated, resulting from bacteria and C-reactive protein, they become inflamed. This shrinks the pathways within them making them smaller than normal. Causing a restriction of proper blood flow, much like a swollen leg can prohibit one form wearing jeans, this inflamed condition also has other consequences. Inflamed tissues in the arteries, much like a sore throat, become rough and raw. This condition inhibits the smooth flow of liquids and particles across the surface of the inner wall; thus allowing plaque, a thick deposit of bad cholesterol, to build up and further reduce blood flow. It is these factors that lead researchers to believe that a direct tie between heart and gum disease, as well as the implications of gum disease on existing heart conditions is becoming quite clear.
No matter the gum and heart disease correlation, there are ways in which one can help prevent the impact gum disease may have on their heart health. By brushing at least twice a day, using bacterial-reducing mouth wash, and seeing the dentist for a routine cleaning once every six months, one can significantly reduce both risks to their oral state as well as their heart. When it comes to the prevention of heart disease, brushing your teeth is a very simplistic solution.