Aug 13, 2021 - minute readminutes read

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Heart Disease has been associated with periodontal disease for quite some time in key studies. Identifying other potential risk factors in patients can provide a more holistic approach to oral health care.

"Oral health as a fundamental human right and an integrated part of general health and well-being"

FDI World Dental Federation

Heart Disease has been associated with periodontal disease for quite some time in key studies, along with other conditions such as Diabetes, Hypertension and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes.

These links are helpful in identifying potential risk factors in patients and providing a more holistic approach to oral health care.

Scientific evidence

  • Chronic infections, such as periodontal disease, are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Heart disease prevalence is highest in people with periodontal disease who also have elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • Studies suggest periodontal disease is a risk factor for heart disease patients who present a systemic inflammatory and immune response reaction to the infection
  • Periodontitis leads to the entry of bacteria into the bloodstream. The bacteria activate the host’s inflammatory-immune response by multiple mechanisms. Several animal models have demonstrated that the host’s inflammatory response favors atheroma formation, maturation, and exacerbation. 
  • While it’s important to be aware of the link, there are no clinical studies that have demonstrated a causal association between periodontal infections and heart disease. Research continues in this area and in the meantime, early detection of disease and early identification of risk factors remains a proactive approach that can be taken by all health professionals.

What can dental professionals do?

The European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) has developed guidelines for oral health professionals in the management of periodontal diseases in relation to systemic conditions. Its advice on heart disease and the role of the dentist is summarised here:

  • Modifiable lifestyle-associated risk factors for periodontitis (and heart cardiovascular disease) should be addressed in the dental surgery/office and within the context of comprehensive periodontal therapy 
  • Treatment of periodontitis in patients with a history of cardiovascular events needs to follow American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for elective procedures 
  • Periodontal treatment can reduce systemic inflammation as evidenced by reductions in CRP and oxidative stress 

  • Practitioners should advise patients of the risk of periodontal inflammation to general as well as oral health
  • Smoking cessation programmes and advice can be offered to patients within the context of improving general health and reducing systemic inflammation 
  • Lifestyle improvements relating to diet, exercise and stress management should also be provided to high-risk patients in collaboration with appropriate specialists and may bring health gains beyond the oral cavity 
#Mouth and Body Connection #Heart disease

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