Gum Problems Can Lead to Heart Trouble

JANUARY 01, 2006

Proper oral care is one way to keep the heart healthy.American Heart Association spokesman Richard Stein, MD, said that he regularly advises patients concerned about their risk for heart attack and stroke to include good periodontal care in their preventive strategies.

Chronic periodontal disease appears to trigger an inflammatory process that contributes to the buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque on the artery walls. "People who have chronic infections—and gum disease is one of the major chronic infections—are at increased risk later in life for atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease," said Dr. Stein.

The results of a study reported last year in Circulation support Dr. Stein's claim. The study found that patients with high levels of bacteria also were at greater risk for atherosclerosis. Individuals can help prevent potential cardiovascular trouble by flossing and brushing with an antibacterial/antigingivitis toothpaste.