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Can Gum Disease Increase the Risk of Heart Disease?

Doctors note that oral health can pave the way towards the prevention of various cardiovascular diseases. As noted by Dr. Gary Bouloux, an oral surgeon and assistant professor at the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, removing a tooth that has been damaged by gum disease can reduce the number of inflamed sections in the mouth. This, in turn, diminishes the inflammatory tendencies of a patient and reduces the risk for various heart diseases.

For many years now, doctors have theorized that there is a link between gum disease and the risk for cardiovascular diseases. However, the exact reason behind the connection still remains a question.

Based on previous studies and clinical trials, it has been founded that people with cardiovascular diseases are burdened with a wide variety of risk factors including poor diet and high cholesterol levels. Oral specialists note that it is quite probable that bad oral health can also be one of these risk factors.

Brushing and flossing can save hundreds of lives

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular diseases account for the highest number of deaths due to sickness, in the country. In the year 2004 alone, almost 450,000 American lives were lost due to various heart problems.

According to Dr. Dwight Weathers of Emory University, it is highly probable that many of these deaths from heart diseases are linked with various gum diseases. He points out that since 85% of the people aged 65 and above, along with 50% of the people below 65 years, have periodontal diseases, the number of deaths related to gum diseases would be large.

Dr. Steven Offenbacher, a research professor from the University of North Carolina also speculates that if poor dental health and gum diseases are diminished, if not eliminated, hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide can be saved.

The missing link

Oral specialists note that hs- CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive-protein), a chemical substance that is produced by the body, might be the missing link between oral health and the risk for cardiovascular diseases.

According to the AHA, the body releases an increased amount of hs- CRP in our blood when we have a gum disease. Such is the body’s normal response to an inflammation prompted by some sort of infection or injury. This increased level of hs – CRP might signal the occurrence of a heart attack. However, specialists have yet to arrive at a conclusion regarding the question of whether hs – CRP is a direct risk factor or just a danger signal for cardiovascular problems.

Gum diseases, a sneaky threat

Dr. Michael Kowolik from Indiana University points out that though we might think that we are free from gum diseases, we might actually still be at risk. He further states that it is quite probable that some cardiovascular deaths might actually be linked to poor oral health.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), some people who have gum diseases do not observe apparent warning signs and symptoms. That is why prevention of dental emergencies should be observed. To reduce the risk for gum infections and periodontal diseases, people should observe proper oral hygiene through brushing and flossing. In addition to that, proper diet and regular dental visits should be observed.

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