Health Matters: Link Between Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease
Michael J. Baleno D.M.D.
Did you know that approximately 50% of adults over 30 have some form of periodontal disease? Periodontal disease refers to the loss of bone which supports the teeth in your mouth. The link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease derives from rooted inflammation.
Periodontal disease is a chronic condition. Patients are usually not aware that it is an ongoing condition until it gets to the point that they are losing teeth—until it is very severe.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. There exists a strong genetic pre-disposition, and periodontal patients often state that their parents experienced tooth loss or are denture-wearers. However, even with a genetic pre-disposition, if teeth and gums are kept clean enough, the risk of losing the bone supporting the teeth is greatly decreased, as this disease is bacterial in nature.
Bacteria sit underneath the gum line and give off an immune response. The immune response indicates your body’s attempt to fight off bacteria. The inability to remove the bacteria from the roots, however, leads to a chronic condition that is often asymptomatic until it has reached a severe state.
The link to cardiovascular disease is connected to the immune response. The same response your body produces to fight off bacteria becomes harmful to the blood vessels and arteries surrounding your heart and throughout your body.
It is not possible to cure perio disease, but it is possible to stop the process. Periodontal maintenance is a method of deep cleaning, where we treat below the gum line and remove bacteria from the root surfaces. Instead of coming in every 6 months, we usually ask to see those patients affected every 3 months, to make sure there is no build up on the roots and that their oral hygiene is adequate.