What is the link between Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease?

The risk for heart disease includes having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, being overweight and smoking. There is evidence that periodontal disease may increase your risk of heart disease. Some studies have suggested that patients with periodontal disease may have almost twice the risk of a fatal heart attack to those who do not have periodontal disease.

What is periodontal disease?
It is a bacterial infection of the gums, bone and the fibres which support the teeth in the jaw. It is a painless disease until the tooth is terminal and requires extraction. Some symptoms include: bad breath, bleeding gums, red and swollen gums, gums separated from the teeth, loose teeth, pus between the gum and the tooth. 

Healthy gums are important to maintain a healthy body. One of the main theories which link periodontal disease with heart disease are that oral bacteria enter the blood stream via inflamed gums and attach to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is caused by the thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the build up 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 with time may lead to a heart attack.

Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures.

Is periodontal disease linked to other health problems?
There have been links with periodontal disease and respiratory disease, diabetes, premature and underweight births and strokes.