gum disease and heart disease connected

Unhealthy Gums and Heart Disease: How Are They Related?

Are They Really Connected?

Wondering if gum disease can be the cause of an unhealthy heart? Many research studies have found that poor oral health can significantly increase the risk of stroke and heart disease. So can regular brushing and flossing give you a healthy heart?

Doctors Say Yes.

While the cause and effect relationship may be a little difficult to establish, there is a definite link between poor oral health and heart disease. So what’s the link?

  • Sore, swollen gums are a symptom of inflammation, which leads to the hardening of arteries, clinically known as atherosclerosis. This medical condition makes it difficult for the blood to flow to the heart and puts you at the risk of stroke.
  • Gum disease leads to infected pockets of pus which allows toxins and bacteria to spread below your gum line and get into the bloodstream eventually damaging the blood vessels of your heart.
  • Another study found a close correlation between gum disease and heart health based on the premise that the plaque buildup in the mouth when released in the bloodstream can cause blood clots. These blood clots can lead to blockages which can force the heart to overwork and invite an attack.
  • Certain research studies have also confirmed that gum disease bacteria can restrict the flow of blood to your brain and cause a stroke.

So, it would be safe to conclude that poor oral hygiene greatly increases the risk of heart disease.

Are You at Risk?

Those suffering from chronic gum conditions like periodontal disease and gingivitis are a high risk of heart disease. When chronic dental problems go undiagnosed and untreated, the susceptibility to stroke and heart attack increases dramatically. A lot of people suffering from gum disease also have diabetes and this adds to the risk of stroke. Smoking and certain medications can also leave you vulnerable to gum disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

According to periodontal dentistry experts, you may be suffering from gum disease if you have:

  • Red, swollen gums that feel sore when touched
  • Gums that bleed when brushing and flossing
  • Infection and pus around the teeth and gums
  • Bad breath and sensitivity
  • Pain and tenderness in gums when chewing food
  • Loose and separating teeth
  • Receding gums

Preventive Measures

Any early signs of gum disease should be diagnosed and treated on time. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly will surely keep your mouth healthy and prevent gum disease. When you maintain oral hygiene, you stay protected from bleeding gums and dental infections. Regular dental checkups are the best way to stay protected from the development of gum disease. If you are experiencing any tenderness in your gums or they are swollen and bleeding, you should seek professional help at the earliest. This is especially important for those who have a family history of heart disease. Finally, irrespective of whether or not a healthy mouth keeps your heart healthy, every individual should strive to maintain healthy dental habits and be proactive about gum health. Bad breath and receding gums should also be addressed immediately as they are early signs of gingivitis.

Shen Chao

View posts by Shen Chao
As a dental blogger, Shen Chao posts regularly at, where he frequently shares tips and insights into a wide variety of dental problems.

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