Do you or a loved one suffer from periodontal disease? At its heart, the disease involves the infection of the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth. To date, medical researchers have uncovered the existence of a close link between periodontal disease and coronary artery disease.
By all indications, periodontal disease causes local and systemic inflammations. And, the infections plaguing gradually receding gums can be carried in the blood to other parts of the body. A related risk factor is the imbalance of infection-fighting antioxidants, which should be addressed in corrective care.
How Inflammation Makes Arteries Vulnerable
A word about “plaque” — a term applied to both our teeth and arteries. The common thread, again, is inflammation. In gum disease, bacteria irritates the gums. In heart disease, plaque builds up in the arteries, potentially blocking blood flow. Arterial plaque is a deposit of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and scar tissue that develops in the artery wall. Meanwhile, plaque in the mouth is a bacterial film that builds up on the teeth.
The plaque from your teeth doesn’t literally travel to the heart, of course. However, infection in the mouth can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Here’s how: oral bacterial pathogens facilitate the growth of atherosclerotic plaque.
Once arterial plaque grows, it can block the arteries and reduce the flow of oxygen-and-nutrient rich blood to other organs. Specifically, inflammation facilitates the attachment of plaque to the linings of the arteries.
Although artery blockage is a serious issue, the life-threatening risk is that the plaque will rupture or form a blood clot. That can put you at high-risk for a heart attack. If the blood clot is in the brain, then the result may be a stroke.
Emerging Evidence for Other Connections
The cogent evidence that periodontal disease is linked with coronary artery disease isn’t the only concern. Infections can potentially affect every part of your body. The inflammation process in the oral cavity can continue on into the bloodstream, which may increase your risk of other systemic infections. Other diseases that scientists believe may be correlated with periodontal disease include dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.
An article in the prestigious journal Nature reports that nearly half of all adults in the United Kingdom have some form of periodontal disease. So, vigilance is critical.
How to Fight Periodontal Disease
In any case, the evidence of risk is strong enough to make vigilance against periodontal disease a daily priority. The first line of defense is a good brushing before bed, when you rise, and after meals. Also, try to floss a couple of times a day. For those who just can’t seem to acquire that essential habit, a great investment is a water pick. This nifty tool eases the process of getting food particles out from between your teeth.
With regular trips to the dentist for cleanings, you’ll undoubtedly be alerted to signs of periodontal disease and its progression.
As mentioned earlier, a good balance of antioxidants is a line of defense against infection. In fact, antioxidants work to prevent the structural breakdown of cells and tissues. They specifically target the mechanisms that produce free radicals. Useful antioxidants in the fight against periodontal disease include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Gingko Biloba, sumac, and green tea.
David York Supports All Patients with Periodontal Disease
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