Perio-Cardio Diseases: Top Causes and Prevention
© 2014 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
When it comes to staying healthy, you might not have a regular dentist check-up high on your list of priorities, especially if you don't have any pain or problems. But medical studies have shown that there is a definite connection between oral health and heart health, and poor dental health can cause other medical conditions as well.
There’s more to dental health than meets the eye; in fact, the health of your mouth, teeth and gums may be indicative of health elsewhere in your body, such as your heart.
What is a Perio-Cardio Disease?
There is strong evidence suggesting that many bodily health problems start with dental problems. Specifically, perio-cardio diseases are heart ailments caused by bacteria issues in your mouth. It starts with periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the gums and tissues. This disease causes micro bacteria to attack the mouth ligaments, bones, and gums. It might also result in gingivitis. From the mouth, the bacteria enters the bloodstream and gets distributed into other areas of the body.
The first place that blood goes is the heart. The micro bacterium then pervades the heart and causes many different health problems, as basically your heart suffers from the same problems that the bacteria caused in your mouth. The inflammatory bacterium builds up near arteries. The arteries then begin to swell. This is caused both by the buildup as well as the resulting inflammation.
Another problem that stems from periodontitis is blocked arteries. The bacteria can attach to fatty acids and block the coronary arteries. These clots restrict blood flow to the heart, which then makes your heart have to work harder in order to keep up blood flow. With less blood flow, your body also loses nutrient and oxygen flow.
Common Dental Problems at the Root of Perio-Cardio Disease...
Even bad breath can be indicative of bacteria buildup in your mouth -- bacteria that can subsequently enter your stomach or bloodstream, contributing to inflammation and chronic disease.
The most common root of perio-cardio disease is periodontitis. However, there are a number of other dental issues that can cause health problems elsewhere in the body.
Bad Breath (Halitosis): Bad breath is caused by bacteria gathering on your tongue and hiding in the crevices between your teeth and gums.
Oral Cancer: Oral cancer begins when malignant blood cells begin reproducing at an alarming rate. The cells will cause tumors, open sores, and discolorations.
Mouth Sores: The cause of mouth sores (including ulcers and canker sores) is still vague. However, many doctors and professionals believe that smoking, drug use, certain foods, and bacteria are all factors.
Tooth Erosion: Tooth erosion and decay are problems that are highly treatable, yet can cause numerous dental problems if left untreated. A mix of carbohydrates and natural bacteria form plaque, which eats away at tooth enamel.
If not treated either by good dental habits or medical treatments, these dental and oral problems can cause health problems for other parts of your body:
The bacteria causing halitosis can build up and make its way into the bloodstream. It can also attach to food and end up in your stomach.
Oral cancer, if not treated immediately, can spread to other organs. Besides being extremely painful, any cancer can be deadly.
Mouth sores, if untreated, can be indicators of other medical problems. Crohn’s disease, Behçet’s Syndrome, and ulcerative colitis are all problems associated with mouth sores.
Tooth erosion is very painful to endure. If not removed frequently, the bacterium from the plaque can be consumed through the digestive system or get into the bloodstream through a small mouth lesion.
Common Physical Health Problems Linked to Dental Health Issues
Although there is no sure way to know whether or not you will develop health problems because of dental hygiene issues, there is strong medical evidence to suggest that there is a link between dental hygiene and physical health problems. Some of these issues include:
Acid Reflux Disease
It may seem difficult to understand how these problems can be identified by looking in a person’s mouth. But, surprising as it may sound, looking in a mouth is a good way to see whether or not a person has greater health problems without the doctor having to perform surgery, X rays, or other common diagnostic procedures. For instance:
Sore, bleeding, and inflamed gums are a good indicator that a person has a cardiovascular disease. This is caused by inflammatory bacteria blocking coronary arteries.
Inflammation caused by periodontitis can disturb a person’s metabolic rate. A body would respond to this disturbance by speeding up the amount of glucose that it produces, causing prediabetic conditions.
If enough bacteria from the mouth is inhaled in the lungs, this can cause respiratory problems such as bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pneumonia.
Mouth sores, such as ulcers and canker sores, are likely indicators that a person also has ulcers in their stomach. This is usually caused by acid reflux disease brought on by acidic foods, stress, and erosion of the stomach lining.
How Good Dental Hygiene Will Help Your Heart
The mouth is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. It is warm, wet, and there are a number of “hiding places” between teeth and gums. If not treated properly, these bacteria can enter your bloodstream and plug up coronary arteries. Bacteria can also be swallowed and inhaled, entering your stomach and lungs. Eradicating the bacteria is the best way to reduce periodontitis and other dental health problems. Because perio-cardio diseases affect multiple areas of the body, they are difficult to eliminate once the problem sets in, so prevention and early detection are key.
How to Maintain Good Dental Health
All of this information points to the importance of proper dental hygiene. There are many things you can do in order to promote your dental health. All these measures will also help you maintain good physical health as well.
Brush and floss regularly. Brushing loosens up plaque around the teeth and gums. Flossing gets into the small spaces between the teeth and gums and releases the hidden bacteria. In order to dispose of these bacteria properly, follow up with a fluoride treatment.
Eat a healthy diet. There are some foods that can wreak havoc on your dental and physical well-being. However, there are many kinds of foods that can promote a healthy lifestyle. Calcium and foods that are rich are vitamin D (as well as regular sun exposure) are both beneficial to teeth and bones; they will help stave off many periodontal problems.
Reduce stress. Scientists have conducted studies examining the relationship between stress and periodontal disease. When stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which has negative effects on teeth, gums, and bones.
Don’t smoke. Tobacco and tar are leading causes for gum, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases. Smoking also affects treatment options for these and other diseases.
Visit your dentist regularly. Schedule teeth cleanings and check-ups at least once every six months. Also make sure to get regular x-rays of your teeth roots to catch any health issues before they become larger problems.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor and Dentist
If you visit your doctor or dentist and have any of the problems defined above, be sure to ask your medical professional some of these questions.
Is my current dental hygiene causing any problems for my physical health?
Are there any physical ailments I have that could be attributed to my dental health?
How can I better my dental hygiene routine to promote a healthier lifestyle?
What foods should I eat in order to make my teeth and bones stronger?
How can I lower my stress levels to keep my body healthy?
Perio.org Healthy Gums and a Healthy Heart: The Perio-Cardio Connection
Annals of Cardiac Anaesthesia, Volume 13, Issue 2, Pages 159-161
Perio.org Mouth-Body Connection
Perio.org Study Finds Periodontal Diseases May Aggravate Prediabetic Characteristics
Journal of Periodontology, Vol. 78, No. 3, Pages 559-565
Perio.org Healthy Gums May Lead to Healthy Lungs
Perio.org Stress and Your Smile
Oral Cancer Foundation Oral Cancer Facts
Common Dental Problems
eMedicineHealth.com Canker Sores
Perio.org Beyond the Brush: Five Ways to Promote Healthy Teeth and Gums