Sunday, April 22, 2012

Does gum disease cause heart disease? Crystal Lake Dentist

What do we know for sure?

Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases of mankind and the main cause of lost teeth in adults. Periodontal disease is a destructive infection/inflammation/trauma related disease. Heart disease (vascular disease) is the number one killer in America today. Both of these diseases can be diagnosed, managed and treated quite successfully today.

Headlines proclaim “Gum disease does Not Cause Heart Disease”

As of now that is true. We have no direct cause and effect established, however the AHA (American Heart Association) study points up a definite relationship between periodontal disease and vascular disease.

Is there a cause and effect?

Maybe, but not established conclusively!
There is definitely a correlation!

The AHA says that more and better studies are needed to establish the exact relationship between periodontal disease and heart (vascular disease). There is evidence that the treatment of gum disease does affect vascular disease, but the extent and value of this periodontal treatment is as yet inconclusive.

Are there common factors in gum disease and heart (vascular) disease

Both periodontal disease and heart (vascular) disease have complex multi-factorial causes. A lot of studies for both periodontal disease and vascular heart disease reveal common factors including several lifestyle (smoking, unhealthy diet, hygiene) and systemic( inflammatory diseases, diabetes), and a genetic predisposition. Control of both heart (vascular) disease and periodontal disease requires a lifetime commitment to lifestyle and preventive management.

What do dentists think?

It is natural that we (dentists) would see correlations between medical conditions and dental conditions because dentists:
  • ·         See their patients more often than physicians.
  • ·         Are often the one to recognize other conditions like high blood pressure, nighttime bruxism, TMJ disorders, oral cancers, and Sleep Apnea.
  • ·         Regularly review health histories, dental home-care, diet, as well as the dental conditions.
  • ·         Often see periodontal disease, in conjunction with heart (vascular) disease and other diseases in the same patient.

What do I think?

The associations are very complex but the results are quite similar.
There is a strong correlation between periodontal disease and other systemic diseases. The factors involved are complex and include stress, psychological (emotional-spiritual), education, economics, access to care,  lifestyle (recreational activities, diet, rest, smoking and other drug/medication use), genetics, environmental  (family of origin values and customs), infections, trauma {physical, emotional}, allergies, other environmental exposures), hygiene, age, function, and structure, snoring (and other sleep disorders), and perhaps Others unlisted.
When periodontal diseases is seen, it often shows up in combination with sleep apnea, nighttime bruxism, high blood pressure, and advanced heart disease, or other inflammatory or systemic diseases.

Now what?

The article suggested more studies and better study designs as well as ongoing research into both of these diseases and the associated factors.

What will future studies show?

Better designed studies will lead to more effective treatment and prevention of both conditions. Clearly as my list of related factors shows the associations are complex.

What can you do?

As you look at the list of factors, you will see that many of them are dependent on the patient taking responsibility for and controlling as many as possible. This includes regular dental/medical checkups and taking good care of yourself.

Dr. Neal answers all of your questions about Dental Implants at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

Your comments are welcome 


  1. This blog is awesome I get lot of information through this blog I love it really thank you for posting this blog
    Gum disease

  2. It is true that both periodontal disease and heart (vascular) disease have complex multi-factorial causes. My cousin is undergoing gum treatment in makati and she doesn't have any heart issues.

    Thanks for sharing this very informative post!


About Me

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Born in the Midwest. Married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Attended Maine West High School, Harper Jr College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Practice in Crystal Lake, Illinois.