The Oral Systemic Link and Cardiovascular Disease
You may have heard phrases like “mouth body connection,” or “oral systemic link,” over the past several years. These names describe the same idea, that caring for your smile can improve overall health and vice versa. By understanding the oral systemic link, dentists and physicians are able to recognize corresponding symptoms, and provide diagnosis at the earliest stages. Cardiovascular disease is one of the many whole body health conditions connected to oral health. Patients with gum disease are at significantly higher risk for developing heart disease, and treating cardiovascular health concerns without treating the connected oral health issues may be less effective.
Periodontal Disease and Whole Body Health
Periodontal (gum) disease effects more than 50% of US adults over 30, and the risk for this condition increases with age due to changes in oral bacteria levels, dry mouth, and immune system suppression. Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that starts when plaque and tartar buildup at the gum line irritates soft tissue leading to sensitivity, bleeding, and discoloration of the gums. Left untreated, sores form on the irritated areas of the gums, and bacteria and plaque enter the blood stream where they exacerbate or cause numerous whole body health concerns including cardiovascular disease. As periodontal disease progresses, pockets form between teeth and gums as the periodontal ligament, supporting alveolar bone deteriorates, and the gingivae break down. Eventually, this destruction of healthy supportive tissue leads to misaligned bite and tooth loss.
Oral Health Indications of Cardiovascular Disease
Recent studies show a direct correlation between periodontal and cardiovascular disease. When plaque and bacteria enter the blood stream, it is more difficult for the heart to pump blood, and inflammation in the gums has been linked to inflammation leading to hardened arteries. According to research published in Journal of the American Geriatric Society, C-reactive protein is one of many indicators of functional decline and mortality among patients with cardiovascular disease. C-reactive proteins are released by the liver to combat inflammation. The inflamed gum tissue caused by periodontal disease stimulates the release of these proteins, and increases health risks associated with heart disease. It’s essential that patients of any age who struggle with cardiovascular health concerns, seek examination from a dental professional to ensure gum disease is not negatively impacting heart health.
Possible Periodontal Disease Treatment Options
Treatment for mild periodontal disease, gingivitis, is typically as simple as better at-home hygiene and more frequent professional cleanings. As gum disease advances, more complex procedures are necessary. Scaling and root planing are the next level of treatment. Scaling is the manual removal of damaged tissue, plaque, and tartar from the gum line, and root planing is the smoothing of tooth roots to prevent future plaque buildup. In the most severe cases, antibiotic treatments, laser therapy, or surgery may be necessary. Our team is happy to discuss possible treatment options with you.
Find Out More from Life Cycle Dental
As a dental team that caters to the unique oral health needs of the senior community, LifeCycle Dental understands the potential risks of gum disease and how important it is to treat both the oral health condition and the possible whole body health concerns. Our team is dedicated to preventing gum disease whenever possible, and we will work with physicians to keep our patients healthy.