Medical researchers and scientists are looking more closely to discover if there is a solid cause/effect relationship between periodontal disease and other diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. It has already been discovered that people with gum disease (periodontal disease) have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event. So far, however, a direct correlation has not been made. The fact is that many people with heart disease have healthy gums, and not everyone with gum disease develops heart problems.
Despite the lack of solid confirmation, there is a growing suspicion that gum disease may be an independent risk factor for heart disease. According to periodontist Dr. Hatice Hasturk of the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focused on oral health, “Periodontal disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation,” https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease-the-common-thread
It is also an established fact that long-term or chronic inflammation is a key contributor to many health problems, especially atherosclerosis. And, even though poor oral health has been debated as a possible cause of heart disease for many years, back in 2012, experts from the American Heart Association reviewed the available scientific evidence and concluded that poor oral health hasn’t been proved to cause heart disease — and that treating existing gum disease hasn’t been proved to reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, what many studies have shown is the following:
- Gum disease (periodontitis) is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can affect the heart valves. Oral health may be particularly important if you have artificial heart valves.
- Tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.
- There is a strong connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from periodontal treatment.
The correlations between periodontal disease and other life-threatening diseases are becoming strong enough to encourage a team approach among dentists and other doctors treating patients for heart disease and diabetes among others.