Features January 2011 Issue

The Health of Your Gums May Affect the Health of Your Heart

Regular dental care may reduce your risk of heart disease.

One of the most direct paths to heart disease is through unhealthy gums. Periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease are both caused by inflammatory processes, so itís no wonder that periodontal disease may aggravate and increase the risk of heart disease, and vice versa. Research shows that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease as those who donít have gum disease. "There is definitely a link between dental health and heart health," says Cleveland Clinic periodontist Rex Raper, DDS. Itís all about bacteria. The mouth contains 300-400 species of bacteria designed to start the digestive process. Problems develop when specific bacteria organize to form a biofilm on the tooth below the gum line.

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