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What heart complications are related to periodontal disease?

There is no conclusive research showing that gum disease raises the risk for heart disease or other heart conditions. There are studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes or stroke, but saying that two conditions are associated is not the same as saying that one causes the other. It only means that some studies have shown that more people with gum disease experience one of the conditions mentioned above than people without gum disease. This finding could be the result of another factor, like smoking. For example, people who smoke are at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and cancer as well as gum disease.

Several studies over the last decade years have linked gum disease to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and low birth weight babies. One study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology revealed that those under 45 with gum disease and other dental infections were nearly three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Gum disease can be greatly reduced and possibly prevented by brushing at least three times a day, for about three minutes each time, and flossing at least once a day. I recommend that most patients see their dentist at least twice a year, but those with gum disease should go up to four times annually. Smokers are encouraged to quit, because smoking can increase the susceptibility to and severity of gum disease. Gum disease should be treated as early as possible to reduce the likelihood of tooth loss and one potential risk factor associated with coronary heart disease.

Research has identified a link between some types of cardiovascular problems and periodontal disease and related oral infections. These problems include:
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Vascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Infection of the heart (endocarditis)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.