Gum Health and Links to Heart Disease

More and more research is confirming links between gum health and general health. The links between periodontal (gum) disease and heart (cardio-vascular) disease are not yet fully understood.

Research points to mouth bacteria getting into the blood stream, travelling to the heart, attaching themselves to any damaged area thus causing inflammation. It appears that similar types of bacteria are found in both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease.

While a direct link has not yet been proved between these two conditions it seems likely that keeping up a good dental hygiene regime will have health benefits beyond the mouth. Further good quality research is needed to shed more light on these possible links.

There is however, a direct link between certain pre-existing heart conditions and mouth bacteria resulting in those people concerned being more susceptible to infective endocarditis, a potentially life threating condition. Patients who have a history of having had rheumatic fever, some congenital heart defects including damaged valves or patients who have artificial heart valves are all at a greater risk of developing infective endocarditis, should mouth bacteria enter their blood stream.

For most of us, having healthy gums would seem to reduce the risks of developing cardiovascular disease. Patients who are at greater risk of developing endocarditis should inform their dentist of their medical history before any dental treatment is carried out and should have a greater incentive to keep up a good dental hygiene regime.