Cardiovascular Disease (including Coronary Heart Disease, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Atherosclerotic Disease, Hemorrhagic Stroke, and Hypertension) is the leading cause of death in the US. “Chronic,” or “Long-term inflammation” has been found to be a significant causing factor in this disease. Inflammation is the body’s natural defense response to a foreign agent such as a virus, bacteria, pollen, etc. Through a number of different biologic pathways inflammatory factors are released by the cells of the body at the site of an infection or injury, producing an “inflammatory state.” Pain, redness, swelling, and heat are indicative of such a state. Unfortunately, inflammation not only affects bacteria and invading pathogens, but also the body’s own tissues, resulting in their deterioration. It is this deterioration of the cardiovascular system that is referred to as Cardiovascular disease.
Periodontal disease refers to a chronic inflammatory state of the hard and soft tissues supporting the teeth as a result of bacterial infection of those tissues. “Gingivitis” is the first stage of periodontal disease, which refers to inflammation of the gum tissue, specifically. This is typically a result of bacteria collecting on the teeth along the gumline, forming “plaque.” This plaque can calcify, if not removed, forming “calculus,” a hard buildup that induces the gums to produce inflammation, the body’s defense mechanism. Inflammation of the gums results in increased blood flow to the area producing swelling of the gingival tissue, thus creating a “rolled-round” appearance of the gingival margins, and bleeding of the gums. In an effort to kill off the plaque/bacterial buildup, the body produces inflammatory factors which breakdown the bone and gum tissue, in addition to bacteria. As a result, the bone supporting the teeth erodes, as does the gingival tissue, leading to the loosening of teeth. This deterioration of tooth-supporting structures and loosening of teeth progresses to the point of eventual tooth loss.
The link between Periodontal and Cardiovascular Disease is a result of the chronic inflammatory factors common to both. These factors are tiny proteins associated with chronic, or long-term, inflammation produced by the body. As a result, studies have shown that dental patients with periodontal disease are 24-35% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. To make a long story short, clean teeth and healthy gums decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.