Did you know?

Evidence suggests that there is a link between Gum Disease and Heart Disease.  When Gum Disease is left untreated, it becomes a chronic infection which your body has to fight long term.  This may result in bacteria from your gums getting into the bloodstream and causing complications for Heart Disease.

Video with Professor Robin Seymour by Simply Health:

How is Gum Disease Linked to Heart Disease?

When gum disease is left untreated, it can develop into Periodontitis, a form of chronic, bacterial infection that affects your gums and the surrounding tissues.  In a person with periodontitis, the bacteria present on the teeth’s surface below the gum-line release toxins that irritate the gums causing reddening, inflammation and discomfort.  The inner layer of the gum pulls away from the teeth and forms pockets between the teeth and gums, which can become infected.  The body’s immune system then fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads on the teeth’s surfaces below the gum line.  Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque and the body’s “good” enzymes involved in fighting infections, start to break down the connective tissues that hold your teeth in place in your jaw.  This type of on-going, chronic infection can lower gum tissue resistance, allowing bacteria to get into your blood stream.

Evidence suggests that there is a connection between Gum Disease and Atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis (also known as ‘hardening of the arteries’) is the term given to the build-up of fatty deposits on the inside of the artery walls, which may lead to blood clots.  Studies have shown that Streptococcus Sanguis (a type of dental bacteria) can cause the clumping of blood platelets, increasing the risks of a blood thrombus (clot).  These clots can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The BBC News reported:

“Scientists from the University of Bristol working with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland now suggest it is the Streptococcus bacteria – responsible for causing tooth plaque and gum disease – which may be to blame.  Their work shows that this bacteria, once let loose in the bloodstream, makes a protein known as PadA which forces platelets in the blood to stick together and clot.”

Professor Howard Jenkinson, who led the research says:

“When the platelets clump together they completely encase the bacteria.  This provides a protective cover not only from the immune system, but also from antibiotics that might be used to treat infection.  Unfortunately, as well as helping out the bacteria, platelet clumping can cause small blood clots, growths on the heart valves, or inflammation of blood vessels that can block the blood supply to the heart and brain.”

THE PROBE: “Study Proves the link between Gum and Heart Disease”

Professor Damian Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association

“Research such as this makes a welcome contribution to further understanding the nature of the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.”