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2davidc8's avatar

How does gum disease cause heart problems?

Asked by 2davidc8 (4983 points ) March 5th, 2014

Just read that gum disease can cause cardiovascular problems. How come? What do your gums have to do with your heart?

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17 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

It’s probably a myth
Source article
There is a statistical correlation between people with gum disease and people with heart disease ie people with heart disease are more likely than those that don’t to have gum disease and people with gum disease are more likely to have heart disease. However, there has never been a direct link between the two demonstrated. Both conditions share similar risk factors (smoking, age, diabetes etc) so its more probable that both conditions are being caused by something else.

Poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk of endocarditis as bacteria from the mouth enters the blood stream and attaches to abnormal heart valves or damaged heart tissue. Therefore people who already have heart disease are at an increased risk if they also have gum disease.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

My dentist preaches this. I think that the real source of correlation has to do with personality and eating habits that cause gum disease also cause heart disease.

Cruiser's avatar

My thoughts on this are aligned with @ARE_you_kidding_me‘s comment in that people who neglect to take care of their teeth are also more likely to neglect taking better care of their bodies or going to the doctor regularly. The Dentist can also function as the “Canary in the Coalmine” in that oral health is truly a window into other health issues that a person may be dealing with and swollen bleeding gums is a clear sign that person is not in overall good health.

JLeslie's avatar

Supposedly there is a connection regarding inflammation. That bacterias trigger inflammation and inflammation in our bodies can lead to heart disease or a heart attack. I think the gum disease is more of a correlation than a direct cause.

delphysmith's avatar

Well i have found a very interesting Article. By reading it you can learn how gum and dental problems are connected with heart attacks.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The majority of people who have heart attacks are wearing black socks at the time. That doesn’t mean not wearing black socks will prevent you from having a heart attack.

pleiades's avatar

I’m sure it can contribute. I mean gingivitis roaming freely in the blood stream… with the potential to cause inflammation… sounds like another thing the immune system is constantly working again.

two words!

Hydrogen Peroxide!

trailsillustrated's avatar

< is a dentist. The bacteria found in dental plaque is the type and strain that have an affinity for heart valves. This is especially true for people that have a history of rheumatic diseases or endocarditis. It’s a very real thing. Your oral tissue is the first to show what your general state of health is. So, if you have bleeding, swollen,smelly gums or any loose teeth, think about that.

2davidc8's avatar

Nice article, @delphysmith. Thank you.
Fellow jellies, I get the gist of what you’re saying. I can now see how there can be a connection.
Thanks.

trailsillustrated's avatar

^ it’s quite complex but the short answer is you don’t want anaerobic, gram negative bacteria in your blood stream. Oral mucosa is very highly vascular, so there’s the connection take caare of your teeth people.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@trailsillustrated I’m interested to know if you read the literature review from Circulation I linked above?

trailsillustrated's avatar

@Lightlyseared actually no, I didn’t, but it’s been studied and documented over many years, scientific reports can be found in the archives of JAMA, and JADA, ( The journal of the american medical association, and the journal of the american dental assoiciation). I will read it though. Okay looked through it. What I said. Bacteria, bloodstream, general health and age of patient, prior heart and or rheumatic disease.

trailsillustrated's avatar

PS i just noted that the OP’s question was, is it causal? No it is not but definitely an increased risk and contributing factor.

ibstubro's avatar

My father’s death actually started with a trip to the dentist. He had had a weak valve in his heart for decades and they were always very careful to give him a huge dose of antibiotic before any dental work. Unfortunately, that also made hid bacteria resistant. Within a week of his dental appointment, the bacterial settled in his heart, he was hospitalized, and he never returned home.

As @trailsillustrated, states, it may not be causal, but definitely an increased risk and contributing factor. Not something to be dismissed out-of hand.

Perhaps the PO was answered in the details: “gum disease can cause cardiovascular problems”.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro @trailsillustrated When someone has MVP or some other significant heart damage already, I think of that as different than a normal heart getting sick from gum disease.

2davidc8's avatar

Hey, everyone, thanks for your follow-up comments. Duly noted.

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