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Can Gum Disease Cause Heart Disease? | Ask the Expert
Your dentist is correct. There does seem to be an association of <a href="https://www.mylifestages.org/healthcenter/Articles.page?R=sw1-4118">periodontal disease</a> (infection and inflammation of the gums that can lead to the loss of your teeth) with heart disease and cardiac events. Both are common problems. 75% of US adults have at least mild periodontal disease, and 20-30% have it severely. <a href="https://www.mylifestages.org/health/heart/ischemic_heart_disease.page">Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease</a> is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, with 30% of all deaths being attributed to it. The seven major and widely accepted factors of causes of coronary disease are:<ol><li>Smoking</li><li><a href="https://www.mylifestages.org/health/heart/system2_lipids.page">Elevated cholesterol levels</a></li><li>Obesity</li><li><a href="https://www.mylifestages.org/health/heart/signs_of_high_blood_pressure.page">Hypertension</a></li><li>Elevated blood sugars (Diabetes or pre-diabetes)</li><li>Lack of physical activity</li><li>Poor diet</li></ol> There has been much research looking at the association of systemic inflammatory states from low level chronic infections such as periodontal disease, chlamydia, Heliobactor Pylori, and Cytomegalovirus affecting endothelial function (the lining cells of your arteries) and making the arteries more susceptible to cholesterol build-up. Remember, association does not prove causality. Although it is very plausible that gum infection can cause atherosclerosis, it is possible that there other things (socioeconomic factors, the foods we eat, etc.) that can cause both problems. It makes sense to keep your gums and teeth healthy. It may help prevent atherosclerosis, but don't forget to eat well, exercise, keep your blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol at good levels, and stay far away from cigarettes.
Heart Health,Other,

Question:

I’m in treatment right now for periodontal disease. My dentist told me recently that gum disease can be associated with heart disease. I had never heard of this before. Is it true?

Answer:

Gary Milechman, M.D.Gary Milechman, M.D.CardiologyCalifornia Pacific Medical Center
Expert
Gary Milechman, M.D.CardiologyCalifornia Pacific Medical Center

Dr. Gary Milechman is associated with Golden Gate Cardiology at California Pacific Medical Center. He is the Director of the Cardiac Telemetry Teaching Service at CPMC with a commitment to teaching nurses, medical students, medical residents and Cardiology Fellows. Dr. Milechman is also a busy clinician, taking care of a wide range of patients with different cardiac problems.

Your dentist is correct. There does seem to be an association of periodontal disease (infection and inflammation of the gums that can lead to the loss of your teeth) with heart disease and cardiac events.

Both are common problems. 75% of US adults have at least mild periodontal disease, and 20-30% have it severely.

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States, with 30% of all deaths being attributed to it.

The seven major and widely accepted factors of causes of coronary disease are:

  1. Smoking
  2. Elevated cholesterol levels
  3. Obesity
  4. Hypertension
  5. Elevated blood sugars (Diabetes or pre-diabetes)
  6. Lack of physical activity
  7. Poor diet

There has been much research looking at the association of systemic inflammatory states from low level chronic infections such as periodontal disease, chlamydia, Heliobactor Pylori, and Cytomegalovirus affecting endothelial function (the lining cells of your arteries) and making the arteries more susceptible to cholesterol build-up.

Remember, association does not prove causality. Although it is very plausible that gum infection can cause atherosclerosis, it is possible that there other things (socioeconomic factors, the foods we eat, etc.) that can cause both problems.

It makes sense to keep your gums and teeth healthy. It may help prevent atherosclerosis, but don't forget to eat well, exercise, keep your blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol at good levels, and stay far away from cigarettes.

Read more:
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Heart Disease Symptoms
Heart disease articles, videos, and other resources

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