Studies within the past ten years have suggested an association between periodontal disease and the likelihood of delivering preterm, low-birth weight babies, developing cardiovascular disease, and having difficulty controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Some studies have also linked periodontal disease to respiratory infection in people with pulmonary problems.
There are several theories as to how periodontitis may have an impact on heart health.
Oral Health and Heart Disease
One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks.
Another theory is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque build up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.
News Releases and Articles
- Study Suggests How Oral Bacterium Might Cause Cardiovascular Disease (May 2006)
- First Gene Profile of Oral Pathogen as it Invades Coronary Artery (September 2005)
- Important Clue in How Certain Oral Bacteria Might Contribute to Heart Condition (August 2005)
- The Inside Scoop: Looking at the Periodontal-Systemic Disease Connection (July 2005)
- Study Reappraises Periodontal-Cardiovascular Disease Link (July 2005)
- Study Finds Direct Association Between Cardiovascular Disease and Periodontal Bacteria (February 2005)
- Scientists Report Important Lead in Studying Possible Association Between Periodontal and Cardiovascular Disease (August 2003)
- MedlinePlus: Heart Disease and Oral Health
The National Library of Medicine’s compilation of links to government, professional and non-profit/voluntary organizations with information on heart disease and oral health.
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