The Correlation Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease
There is a definite link between gum disease and heart disease. Research and clinical data from dentists and physicians, especially cardiologists, have proven beyond a doubt that people who have periodontal disease are more prone to atherosclerosis, also known as “hardening of the arteries.” Atherosclerosis develops when deposits, called plaque, build up and narrow your arteries, clogging them like a plugged-up drain. If these plaques ever block the blood flow completely, you could have a heart attack.
Experts know that bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream through the gums. These same bacteria have been found clumped in artery plaques. The connection between the two could still be important. For instance, periodontal disease might be an early sign of cardiovascular problems. Heart disease can be hard to catch early because many of the conditions that precede it have no symptoms. You won’t ever feel your arteries hardening or your cholesterol rising. But you might, however, notice bleeding or painful gums.
The lack of causal evidence should not diminish concern about the impact of periodontal status on cardiovascular health. According to Pamela McClain, DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology and a practicing periodontist in Aurora, Colorado, “Both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are complex, multi-factorial diseases that develop over time. It may be overly simplistic to expect a direct causal link. The relationship between the diseases is more likely to be mediated by numerous other factors, mechanisms, and circumstances that we have yet to uncover. However, as the AHA statement points out, the association is real and independent of shared risk factors. Patients and healthcare providers should not ignore the increased risk of heart disease associated with gum disease just because we do not have all the answers yet.”
A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men in their 30s who had severe periodontal disease were three times more likely to suffer from erection problems. While this study suggests an association between erectile dysfunction and periodontal disease, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) believes more research is needed before conclusively linking the two.
Periodontal disease is a chronic, inflammatory disease that attacks the gums and supporting bone structure of the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Several studies have linked periodontal disease to other health complications such as heart disease and diabetes.
Recent research found men with a history of gum disease are 14 percent more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. More specifically, 49 percent of men are more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, 59 percent were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancer.
To help prevent periodontal disease, everyone, regardless of gender, should receive a comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) from a dental professional on an annual basis. A CPE is used to examine your teeth, plaque, gums, bite, bone structure and any risk factors you may have for periodontal disease.
Prostate Health: Research found that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), an enzyme created in the prostate that is normally secreted in very small amounts, is secreted at higher levels in men with periodontal disease and prostate cancer than men with just one of the diseases.
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