The Link between Gum Disease and the Health of the Heart

You may think the only way to have a healthy heart is to eat right and work out in the gym. However, proper oral care may also lead to a healthy heart. Gum disease does not only affect your mouth’s health. It also affects your heart’s health. The reason why is not completely understood yet, but there are a couple of theories of why this happens.

The Two Main Theories

  • Oral Bacteria and the Bloodstream – The first theory believes that when oral bacteria enters the bloodstream that it can latch on to the fatty plaques already hanging out in the coronary arteries. This may add to the blood clots occurring. These blood clots hamper the normal flow of blood. This may negatively affect the heart, because the heart receives less oxygen and nutrients. This may contribute to coronary artery disease and eventually lead to a heart attack.
  • Periodontal Disease and Plaque Build-up in the Arteries – The second theory is that inflammation connected with the periodontal disease causes more plaque to build up in the arteries. This causes the arteries to swell, which in turn makes it difficult for the blood to flow.


Many studies exist that point to a link between gum disease (and oral health), and heart health problems according to Sally Cram, DDS, a periodontist and spokesperson of the American Dental Association. Does this mean that if you have good oral health that you will also have ideal heart health? The answer to this is not quite known at this point.

However, the American Academy of Periodontology, states that individuals suffering from periodontal disease have double the chance of contracting coronary artery disease than those who don’t have gum disease.

Moise Desvarieux, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist, talks to the disbelieving all the time. This is just not what people think is one of the causes for heart disease. He recently helped author a study that appeared in the Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, which involved 657 individuals not diagnosed with heart disease. The results were the people that had more of certain bacteria that cause diseases in their mouths and bloodstream had a higher risk of atherosclerosis in their carotid artery. This leads to a stroke in many instances. Atherosclerosis blocks the arteries with fatty deposits and other elements clinging to the artery walls.

Mouth Disorders that are Possible Link to Heart Disease

Many mouth disorders may adversely affect the heart. These problems are:tooth-decays

  • Cavities – Cavities are small openings that happen because the tooth decays. This decay occurs thanks to a certain type of bacteria different from the type that makes gum disease occur. Cavities in certain location may irritate the gums and cause other problems to happen like types of gum disease.
  • Gingivitis – This is a forerunner of the Periodontitis disease. Gingivitis happens with the bacteria gets between the teeth and gums. Swelling, bleeding and redness are all the signs of this disease at first, when left untreated though it turns into the more serious Periodontitis disease. Proper oral care will clear up gingivitis most of the time.
  • Periodontitis – This is a serious level of gum disease that deeply affects your gums and possibly your jawbone. The toxins that the bacteria cause infect the gums to the point that the bone will decay under them. This makes the gum recede from the teeth.

These are just some of the gum disorders that affect the heart. Regular checkups at the dentist are necessary for a healthy mouth and now by the research date possibly a healthy heart. It all starts at home though with proper oral care.