Can Heart Disease Be Caused by Gum Disease?

Growing evidence suggests that there is more at stake than your teeth and gums with periodontal disease.

While researchers have yet to prove that periodontal disease (gum disease) can cause cardiovascular problems, there is certainly a lot of evidence of a relationship between the two conditions. Research shows that people suffering with gum disease are twice more likely to experience cardiovascular issues.  A recent study also found evidence that people with increased LDL cholesterol have a higher risk for cardiovascular problems when they also have periodontal disease.1


What is Gum Disease?


Gum disease is a condition where your gums are harmed by bacteria and other debris when it turns into a sticky substance called plaque.  If the plaque is not eliminated through daily brushing, flossing, and periodic cleanings with your dental hygienist, it can harden into tartar, which can damage gums, leading to bone and tissue loss, as well as loss of teeth.  


Some symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Inflamed gums that are red and painful, or other oral pain

  • Visible bleeding when brushing and flossing teeth, or chewing hard food

  • Receding gum line, which causes your teeth to look longer

  • Pus found between teeth and gums

  • Mouth sores

  • Constant bad breath

  • Your teeth fit together differently when you bite

  • Your partial or dentures fit differently


What Causes Gum Disease?


There are several things that can cause gum disease.  These may include:

  • Smoking

  • Hormonal changes in girls and women

  • Diabetes

  • Other health conditions and their treatments

  • Genetics


How Can Gum Disease Affect My Heart?


Scientists believe that cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease are linked through inflammation caused by bacteria originating in the mouth.  As bacteria grow and cause damage to the gums and other tissue, it’s possible that it can enter the bloodstream, causing inflammation.  Vessel hardening plaque may accumulate, and can break off and travel to the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke.


How Can I Treat My Gum Disease


The best way to help prevent gum disease is good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing, flossing everyday, and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.  If you develop gum disease, your dentist may choose a treatment that’s right for you, and can include deep cleaning, prescription mouthwash, antiseptic chips, antibiotic gel, antibiotic microspheres, enzyme suppressant, and oral antibiotics.


In instances of severe gum disease, there may be deterioration of bone that functions as foundation for your teeth.  An oral surgeon may suggest a bone graft, which involves using bone harvested from another part of the body to repair the damage in your mouth, and provide an anchor for dental implants, as well as help preserve the appearance of your face.




Good oral hygiene means more than having a pretty smile, it also means safeguarding your overall health and quality of life.  If you have periodontal disease, it is important to manage your condition, and prevent possible damage to your heart and blood vessels.  If you suffer from heart disease, it is crucial that you take care of your teeth and gums to avoid worsening your condition, and potentially having a heart attack or stroke.


If you suffer from bone loss caused by periodontal disease, the professionals at The Summit OMS have the skills and experience to repair the damage safely, and help restore your smile. To discuss your options for bone grafting, contact our office today.  


1Mathews MJ, Mathews EH, Mathews GE. Oral health and coronary heart disease. BMC Oral Health. 2016;16(1):122. Published online November 15, 2016. doi: 10.1186/s12903-016-0316-7.


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