A common bacterium has been found in both gum disease and heart disease which means a person’s heart can become affected if they have periodontal disease. A research team from Örebro University in Sweden uncovered the bacteria – Porphyromonas gingivalis (or P. gingivalis) – which is found in both periodontal disease and heart disease.
When arteries become clogged with fat and cholesterol, it can result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries; this can prompt a blood clot and lead to a heart attack. Researchers found P. gingivalis to be present in the plaque of arteries.
To reach their findings researchers cultured human aortic smooth muscle cells and infected them with P. gingivalis. When muscle cells were injected they secreted enzymes called gingipains which change the ratio between two proteins involved in inflammation which resulted in the boost of inflammation. This inflammation is believed to play an important role in atherosclerosis.
Researchers are hopeful that the new findings will help find a way to treat both gum disease and heart disease. The findings were published in the journal Infection and Immunity.
Gum disease symptoms that increase risk of heart disease
If you have been skipping your regular dentist visits, you’re not only putting your mouth at risk but your heart, too. Dentists should also inform their patients that when they give a diagnosis of gum disease, the patient should also get their heart checked out. Below are the symptoms associated with gum disease so you can begin seeking treatment early and start working to improve your heart health.
- Red, swollen, painful gums
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or eating
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
- Teeth are loose
- Pus forms between teeth and gums
- Sores in mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- Changes to how teeth fit together or when you bite
- A change in fit to partial dentures
Keeping gums and heart healthy
There are common risk factors that – by putting both your gums and heart at risk – should be considered in order to keep your gums and heart healthy. Smoking, poor nutrition and diabetes are some of the risk factors that affect both the heart and the gums.
The key to healthy gums and heart is prevention, and there are many changes you can make in order to avoid gum disease and heart disease. Below are preventative measures to ensure you stay healthy.
- Get regular checkups with the dentist.
- Brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash.
- Manage and control diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a proper diet.
- Lose weight.
- Exercise regularly.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.