Heart attacks are one of the biggest causes of death in the United States, with a yearly average of 610.000 people (roughly 1 in every 4 deaths), it comes as no surprise that health research has focused heavily on finding the causes behind heart disease. What may come as a surprise is that several studies have shown that periodontal diseases may have a direct correlation with heart attacks and strokes, in other words, a bad oral hygiene won’t just devolve into bad breath and a yellowish smile, but it could prove fatal.
Inflammatory diseases such as gum swelling contribute to arterial plaque rupture which in turn is related to thrombotic events such as strokes and heart attacks. Before we start panicking, we need to understand that one thing doesn’t necessarily cause the other, but if we already have a heart condition, having a bad oral hygiene isn’t going to do us any favors. Still, the evidence points to the correlation being strong, so even if you have a minor condition or you consider yourself healthy, having a bad oral hygiene is putting you at potential risk. The problem here is that swelling adds an extra burden to the circulatory system since now it needs to work overtime to provide extra blood to the afflicted area.
This correlation has been corroborated by several clinical trials and a meta-analysis by the American Health Association. To make matters worse, the studies have also shown that certain habits such as alcohol an tabaco consumption are both related circulatory diseases and periodontal diseases, so drinking and smoking are actually making matters worse on both fronts.
The good news is that an adequate treatment of the periodontal disease will almost immediately lower the stress on the circulatory system, reversing any harmful effects that it may have caused. Of course this requires the help of a dentist who can adequately diagnose the source of the periodontal disease and provide the right treatment. Keep in mind that over 90% of periodontal diseases are caused or at least related to oral hygiene, so it’s very important to follow your health professional’s instructions to the letter. Also, remember brush and floss after every meal and make regular appointments to remove your plaque and to check for cavities, early detection will allow for a faster and most efficient treatment, and it might even save your life.