Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The month of February is dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and increasing knowledge about prevention.
We are dedicated to educating our patients about the mouth/body connection. An increasing number of researchers are finding that there’s a link between common health conditions—like heart disease—and oral health. It’s becoming clear that the body can affect the health of your mouth and vice versa.
So, how is heart disease related to your mouth?
Several studies exist to explain the link between periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease
- Oral bacteria can affect the heart via the blood stream and then attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation.
- Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal (gum) disease increases plaque buildup, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.
More Heart Disease/Gum Disease Connections
- The number one cause of death is inflammation.
- The number one cause of inflammation is gum disease.
- Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.
- One study has shown that gum disease, cavities and missing teeth are as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
Does that make you feel crazy? Well…you aren’t! There are actually several reasons why it can be difficult to pinpoint the origin of tooth pain.
Let’s take a step back and consider some of the possible reasons. Tooth decay can cause bacteria to infect the interior of the tooth and then trigger pain from changes in temperature or pressure. This pain is coming from the nerve, but those nerves aren’t tied to one specific tooth. Therefore, it can feel like the pain is coming from a group of teeth or even from the sinus area. (who knew??) This type of pain may decrease over time, even without treatment, but the problem is simply hiding in the wings… and can lead to a root canal and eventually to gum disease.
Going the other direction, gum disease can lead to root canal infection. Common periodontal disease caused by plaque along the gum line can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums. The gum can then begin to detach from the tooth surface and form a “pocket.” As this worsens, the infection can spread to the root of a tooth and then into the tissue inside the tooth. The resulting pain may feel like gum and tooth pain. Since some of these roots can be in the proximity of roots of other teeth, the infection and pain can spread to nearby teeth and gum area.
THEN to confuse matters even more, a broken tooth can cause tooth AND gum pain depending on the location of the fracture in the tooth.
So, clear as mud?? We tried to simplify this as much as possible, but we also recognize that not every dental case fits carefully into one bucket. That is why we are here to help figure it out. If you are experiencing tooth or gum pain, give us a call; we can work together to figure out what exactly is happening and create a treatment plan to make you feel better.
So, there…all better?
(Source: Dear Doctor Dentistry & Oral Health, Issue 20)