The Cardiac- Oral Health Connection

The latest survey conducted in 2017 states that there are roughly 300 lakh patients with heart problem and approximately 2 lakh surgeries are performed every year. Heart attack alone kills thousands of people in India every year and to utter surprise Cardiac issues are some how related to oral health care. It surprisingly true that, this deadly disease and the gums are related.

According to several studies performed across the globe, having gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 30%. Though the findings indicate a strong link between gum inflation and heart disease, it’s still not established whether one causes the other. The two problems have some of the same risk factors, including smoking, poor nutrition and diabetes. Doctors believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease is responsible for the connection.

What does an Oral problem have to do with Cardiac disease?

Researchers, doctors and experts believe that in both the cases since, inflammation is a common problem, hardening of the arteries, has a strong component of inflammation. And, similarly much of the progression of plaque issues has to do with inflammation. In case of gum diseases, Gingivitis (the initial stage of gum swelling) occurs when gums become inflamed.

There have been several researches across America and Europe, carried out by cardiologists and periodontists with the aim to establish direct result between gum disease and heart disease. These reports make following submissions-

  1. Gum disease is, in itself a risk factor for coronary arteries disease.
  2. Gum disease is a major risk factor for problems related to blood vessels and the arteries that supply the brain and the strokes involving inadequate supply of oxygen and blood to the brain.
  3. It is also established that there is a direct relation between clogged arteries in the legs and the gum diseases.

Some of the researchers have also studied and found that, the real dental and heart connection involves how the body uses and manages calcium. The bones and teeth need calcium to grow but the heart and blood vessels fitness depends upon the body’s ability to keep calcium out of arteries. Some calcium is needed to clot the blood and prevent from bleeding, but too much causes excessive build-ups and the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels. Resulting in cardiac arrest.

The two commonalities in both the diseases are that, bacteria found in both the cases are similar. The bacteria found in gum disease was also found in the blood vessels going through atherosclerosis. Another, common symptoms in both the disease is inflammation. When people have severe gum disease, their levels of C reactive protein (CRP) increases. CRP levels are also found increased in heart diseases and heart attack.

What are the symptoms to look for, to detect any gum related issues?

  1. If gums are swollen and red and are sensitive to touch or the feel.
  2. Often bleeding of the gums, while brushing or flossing.
  3. Signs of pus or bad breath coming out, should be never ignored and it should be consulted with a dentist as soon as possible.
  4. Any, issues with tooth loosening or gums pulling away.

So, now it is up to the periodontist to advice their patients towards the co-relation between the oral care and heart issues.

  • Dentists should tell patients having severe gum disease that they may have an increased risk for heart and blood vessel problems. People with moderate to severe gum disease and a known risk factor for heart disease, such as smoking, should consider getting a medical evaluation.
  • Cardiologists and dentists should work together to focus on reducing heart disease risk and ensuring good dental care for patients with heart disease and gum disease.
  • Patients with heart issues who also have symptoms of gum or a high level of C reactive protein (CRP) should get a periodontal evaluation periodically.

The best way of keeping the heart healthy is with a better oral care and it is always said that prevention is better than cure. By inculcating good and hygienic dental habits one can reduce both the risk to gums and to the heart as well. A regular healthy habit can considerably lower the risk of both gum disease and heart disease. And, if someone already has one or the both of the issues, following precautions should be taken-

  1. Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet, rich in calcium, proteins and vitamins is a must, as these helps in keeping the gum strong and healthy and thus helps in keeping the heart fit and functioning.
  2. Avoid smoking and drinking. It is also advisable not to take too much of caffeine as these substances weakens the area around the gums and the tooth starts showing problems. Alcohol and cigarette should be avoided in any circumstances.
  3. Practicing healthy dental habits of flossing, so that all the plaque forming bacteria should be removed. It is also advisable to brush the teeth twice, a day to keep the gums healthy.

The relation between gums and heart issues have long been known but the scary truth is that people with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease as compared with others.

Hence, maintaining a proper dental hygiene and health, especially the gums, may result in healthier and beautiful smile. On the other hand, it will also help in keeping the heart healthy too!