Cardiologists and periodontists, the dentists who treat gum disease, have long debated if there is a link between oral health and heart disease. It’s true that people with poor oral health have more heart attacks. However, people with poor oral hygiene might not have other good health habits like healthy diet, exercising, or not smoking.
Oral Hygiene and Heart Health
Many studies have shown a connection between gum disease (periodontitis) and heart disease. Research suggests that periodontitis may increase the risk of developing heart disease. There is also a strong correlation between diabetes and heart disease.
Gum disease is an inflammatory disease and “a very powerful predictor of cardiovascular disease,” said UCSF cardiologist Ann Bolger.
The gums become inflamed due to the bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontal disease. This same bacteria can get into the bloodstream causing the arteries to build up plaque and harden as well as tiny blood clots to form.
Recently, researchers found after studying 682 people’s brushing habits that oral hygiene guidelines increased the risk of having or dying from a heart attack, heart failure or stroke by three-fold.
Another study found that gum disease increases blood pressure and can also negatively interfere with hypertension medication. (1)