Periodontal Disease = Heart Disease? Maybe Not.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. Many researchers have suggested that gum disease can be a cause of heart disease, and that treatment of gum disease and good oral hygiene can reduce a patient’s risk of getting heart disease. As a result of this research, certain companies have marketed their products like toothpaste as being good for the heart.
The American Heart Association has reviewed hundreds of papers and studies and in a scientific statement concluded that so far there’s no conclusive evidence that gum disease is a contributing factor of heart disease. Confusing isn’t it? While we know that it is plausible for oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and affect the heart, there is only enough evidence to show correlation between the two diseases, but not causation. We do know that diseases of the mouth and of the heart share many of the same risk factors including smoking, age and diabetes, and that may explain why they occur simultaneously in some people. It is possible that future research may find a cause and effect between these two diseases, but maybe not.

While it is comforting to know that periodontal health does not affect heart health, it is still important to maintain good oral hygiene. Most adults have some degree of periodontal disease and it is the most common cause of tooth loss. The condition ranges from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. Symptoms can range from bad breath to bleeding gums, and in the worst cases, teeth are lost. That in itself should be reason enough to make good oral health a priority. Dr. Glass recommends routine dental cleanings every 6 months to maintain good oral health. If you receive a diagnosis of periodontal disease he may recommend more frequent visits to return your mouth to good health and prevent further progression of the disease.

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