Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

Periodontal disease, heart disease and stroke may seem to be unlikely bedfellows, but researchers have found that gum disease sufferers are nearly twice as likely to also suffer from coronary heart disease.  In addition, research studies have discovered that oral infection is indeed a risk factor for stroke.  People diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to also be experiencing some degree of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition in which the gingival tissue surrounding the teeth is infected by the colonization of bacteria.  Bacteria found in plaque colonize first above, then below the g gumline causing the tissue to pull away from the teeth.  If periodontal disease is left untreated, deep pockets form between the gums and the teeth and the tissue of the underlying jawbone is also destroyed.  The destruction of bone tissue causes the teeth to shift, wobble or completely detach from the bone.

Coronary heart disease occurs when the walls of the coronary arteries become progressively thicker due to the buildup of fatty proteins.  The heart then suffers from a lack of oxygen and must labor significantly harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.  Coronary heart disease sufferers sometimes experience blood clots which obstruct normal blood flow and reduce the amount of vital nutrients and oxygen the heart needs to function properly.  This phenomenon often leads to heart attacks.

Reasons for the Connection

There is little doubt that the presence of periodontal disease can exacerbate existing heart conditions.  The periodontist and cardiologist generally work as a team in order to treat individuals experiencing both conditions.

There are several theories which may explain the link between heart disease, stroke and periodontal disease, which include the following:

  • Oral bacteria affect the heart – There are many different strains of periodontal bacteria.  Researchers assert that some of these strains of bacteria enter the bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in the heart blood vessels (coronary arteries).  This attachment then contributes to clot formation causing grave danger to the individual.
  • Inflammation – Periodontal disease causes severe inflammation in the gum tissue which elevates the white blood cell count and also the high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels.  Research studies have shown that elevated levels of C-reactive proteins have been linked to heart disease.
  • Infectious susceptibility – Individuals who experience particularly high levels of oral bacteria may have weaker immune systems and an inadequate host inflammatory response.  These factors may induce specific vascular effects which have previously been shown to contribute in the onset of certain forms of heart disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Since periodontal disease appears to be a risk factor for both heart attack and stroke, it is extremely important to seek immediate treatment.  Initially, the periodontist will conduct thorough examinations to assess the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone.  X-rays can be helpful in determining whether bone loss is prevalent in the upper and lower jaw.

The dentist is able to conduct deep cleaning treatments such as scaling and root planing to remove hardened calculus (tartar) deposits from the gum pockets.  An antibiotic may be prescribed to ensure that the bacterium is completely destroyed and the periodontal infection does not spread.  In most cases, periodontal disease can be prevented with regular cleanings and proper home care.

If you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease and its relation to heart disease and stroke, Dr. Mahlin will be happy to discuss them with you.  We care about your overall health and your smile!

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

Everyone at the practice is super friendly, starting from the front desk to Dr. Mahlin. I normally get the first appointment in the morning and I have never had to wait. I have been going to them for probably 20 years and have never had an issue that isn't promptly resolved. Last time I had my crown done, Dr. Mahlin even gave me his mobile number in case of an issue. I'll definitely recommend them.

Sanjiv Bhatia

Dr. Mahlin and his staff are absolutely wonderful! His bedside manner is among the best, if not the best, when it comes to compassionate, patient-centered care. He even called me after I had a new crown placed just to see how I was doing. He's thoughtful, gentle (both as a person and as a dentist), and most importantly is excellent at dentistry! His staff couldn't be friendlier or more accomodating and I have never had a long wait in the waiting room. I would give him 10 stars if this rating scale allowed it!

Gregory Polites

Kim, my hygienist, is the best, she has a passion for insuring she does her best to ensure patient comfort and that I will leave with the cleanest teeth and gums as well as a plan for addressing potential issues! Dr. Mahlin is very professional in his final inspection and verification of any of Kim's findings while performing the cleaning. An added bonus that Dr. Mahlin provides is a follow up call in the evening to ensure that your experience that day for treatment has gone as expected and there aren't any abnormalities. Very Caring person!

John Helbing

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Scott Mahlin, DDS, FAGD, FICOI and Clarkson Dental Group, serving West St. Louis County area in Chesterfield, MO Disclaimer: This website is provided for information and education purposes only.  No doctor/patient relationship is established by your use of this website.  No dentistry diagnosis or treatment is being provided.  The information contained here should be used in consultation with a dentist of your choice.  No guarantees or warranties are made regarding any of the information contained within the website.  This website is not intended to offer specific medical or dental advice to anyone.  Further, this web site and Dr. Scott Mahlin, DDS, FAGD, FICOI take no responsibility for web sites hyperlinked to this site and such hyperlinking does not imply any relationships or endorsements. Please contact us with any concerns.

 

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