The Link between Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. George Hatzigiannis serves patients through his private practice in Massachusetts. Possessing more than a decade of dental experience, Dr. George Hatzigiannis has earned hundreds of continuing education credits and given a dozen lectures on such topics as managing cardiac patients and their dental health.

Various studies have found that periodontal disease, which occurs when the gums and other structures around the teeth become infected with bacteria, is linked to cardiovascular disease. In fact, individuals who have periodontal disease are roughly two times as likely to develop heart disease than those without. This risk is higher among patients with high cholesterol.

Scientists believe that the link between periodontal and cardiovascular disease is due to bacteria and inflammation. The bacteria that infect the gum when a person has periodontal disease are the same bacteria that contribute to the formation of cardiovascular disease. During brushing or chewing, the bacteria from infected gums are dislodged and enter into the bloodstream.

The bacteria are then carried throughout the circulatory system, triggering an inflammatory response within the body. This response results in the formation of arterial plaque, which narrows arteries and can cause heart attack or stroke.