Noteworthy Research on Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Though more concrete research is needed, growing evidence suggests that gum disease may have a direct impact on various types of heart disease.

The benefits of treating gum disease

A 2014 study sponsored by United Concordia Dental looked at members with coronary artery disease – the most common type of heart disease.1 Based on their medical insurance claims, researchers determined that those who had gum disease and received proper treatment saw  improvements in their overall health.

The role of bacteria

Another theory suggests that bacteria in the mouth can end up in the blood stream and contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries that is responsible for a range of heart problems.3

A summary of other findings

A 2009 report evaluated more than 100 studies and other data on the relationship between gum disease and heart health. Published in both the Journal of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology, the report suggested that:

  • Gum disease is likely an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease.
  • People with periodontitis (severe gum disease) may have a higher risk of stroke.
  • Bacteria found in both heart disease and gum disease are similar and could be related.
  • Moderate to severe gum disease can cause a rise in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, which are markers of inflammation used to assess a person’s heart attack risk.

The authors of the report recommended that patients talk with their dentists about their medical history and lifestyle factors, including whether or not they use tobacco. Making positive lifestyle changes – such as eating better and exercising more – can limit the risk of both gum disease and heart disease.3

Sources:

1. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD); Centers for Disease Control; August 2015
2. Heart disease and oral health: role of oral bacteria in heart plaque; Harvard Health; February 2007
3. Healthy Teeth, Healthy Heart? WebMD; 2009