Gum Disease and Heart Disease

added on: October 13, 2014

“Superior doctors prevent disease. Mediocre doctors treat the disease before it is evident. Inferior doctors treat the full-blown disease”. -Huang Dee Nai-Chang, from the first known Chinese medical text, ca. 2600 B.C.

This quote is from the recently released book Beat The Heart Attack Gene by Bradley Bale, MD and Amy Doneen, ARNP.

In the book they state: “Today, scientific evidence that healthy gums help prevent heart attacks and strokes is so powerful that the editors of The American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Periodontology issued a consensus statement recommending that Doctors and dentists warn patients with moderate to severe gum disease of their potential for cardiovascular danger.”

There are another three recommendations in the consensus statement. There it is. Healthy gums help prevent heart attacks and strokes. The converse is also true, periodontal disease elevates the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It is that simple.

When you present to our practice for your routine preventive care visit, we keep in mind the big picture. We are not thinking of just helping you manage your oral health from July to January or September to December – our focus is not short term.

Our goal is to be helping our patients manage their oral health for the rest of their lives, and giving them the knowledge and tools to make that a reality. – Dr. John

The primary way for patients to make that a reality is to knock down the number of oral bacteria (in dental plaque) on a daily basis. Periodontal disease is the result of the interplay between the bacteria that cause it and our bodies immunological response. Risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, stress, poor nutrition, genetics, etc. are important to control as much as possible, but since they are contributory rather than causative, the primary focus is on reducing the number of bacteria. It is that simple – no bacterial causative agent … no disease … period.

We are not just helping you manage your oral health for the rest of your lives. We are helping you manage your overall health for the rest of your lives. Maintaining or returning the health of your gums to normal – that means no bleeding gums at anytime – constitutes heart attack and stroke prevention. The number of physicians and dentists who are providing bacterial DNA testing is growing as the understanding of the impact of periodontal disease and the direct effects of oral bacteria on vascular health is expanding. These healthcare providers are not waiting for 50 or 500 additional studies to be completed before they act for the benefit of their patients. The details of the relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are sufficiently complex to fill a library. The basic concepts, however, are so simple. Periodontal disease increases insulin resistance; insulin resistance is the biggest root cause of atherosclerosis; and atherosclerosis is the initiator of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. There it is again. Simple as can be.

As discussed in Beat The Heart Attack Gene, the most important recommendations medical professionals provide for the prevention of cardiovascular disease are lifestyle recommendations, far beyond prescriptions for statins, antihypertensives, etc. Helping you manage bleeding gums and gum disease are one of those lifestyle changes.

Healthy gums help prevent heart attacks and strokes. There it is. It is that simple.