Heart disease is the single most lethal disease in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 600,000 men, women, and children every year. Causes typically range from smoking and alcohol use to poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, or congenital heart defects. What most people don’t know is that they may have a powerful ally in the lifelong fight against heart disease, which includes strokes and heart attacks. It’s not a fad diet, cookbook, or expensive herbal supplement. It’s your toothbrush, and there is substantial evidence to support its role in battling the number one killer in America.
According to the American Dental Association, the health of your mouth correlates to the health of your body. Periodontal disease appears to have a strong link to some of the most severe health threats out there, including cardiovascular disease. Could brushing and flossing, the two most powerful means of preventing gum disease, also be instrumental in preventing heart disease? It’s not conclusive, but it’s certainly promising.
Interesting Studies About Heart Disease and Gum Disease
The American Academy of Periodontology reports that a patient with gum disease has nearly double the risk of heart disease than someone with healthy gums. The AAP goes on to cite a study in which the presence of common oral maladies, such as cavities, tooth loss, and gum disease, proved just as reliable as cholesterol levels in predicting cardiovascular disease. An article recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association detailed a study of hundreds of individuals, none of who had heart disease. Researchers discovered that individuals whose mouth harbors high levels of some disease-causing bacteria also had a significantly higher risk of developing plaque buildup in their carotid artery due to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis, as you may know, can cause deadly strokes.
Different Types of Plaque, All Dangerous
Don’t let the name fool you. The sticky film of bacteria and food that erodes tooth enamel and contributes to gum disease isn’t the same plaque that clogs arteries. Could preventing one prevent the other from forming? Possibly, but we haven’t yet determined the exact relationship and its implications for our health. We do know that bacteria living in the mouth can easily be absorbed into the bloodstream through our gum tissue, and that these bacteria may appear in arterial plaque. Experts believe that bacteria may cling to plaque in the blood, which could exacerbate blockages. Always take preventative measures, such as flossing and regular visits to your periodontist.
Have you been diagnosed with periodontal disease? Dr. Comeaux, Dr. Pearson, and the team at Periodontics Associates treats patients with gingivitis, the milder, early stage of gum disease, and periodontitis, the more severe form of the disease. To schedule an appointment at our Lafayette office, contact us at 337-989-0267. For an appointment at Dr. Comeaux’s Opelousas satellite office, call toll-free 800-821-6503. We proudly serve patients in Lafayette, Carencro, Scott, Youngsville, Broussard, Milton, Abbeville, Maurice, New Iberia, and surrounding communities throughout Acadiana.