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Untreated periodontal disease and decay in and around the mouth is like having an open wound the size of a hand; it’s invisible because it’s under the gums. Periodontal disease, usually called Gum Disease, is a chronic infection involving about 500 different kinds of bacteria that can affect heart disease. The way it works is that chronic infections may trigger a chain of chemical events that cause inflammation, or swelling, throughout the body. When plaque lining the arteries causes them to becomes inflamed, blood clots can form, leading to heart attack or stroke.
Studies have found that people with periodontal disease are more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those who don’t. Some researchers believe that bacteria shed by chronic oral infections can spread through the bloodstream and contribute to disease in the heart and other parts of the body.
Patients who receive regular tooth cleanings may have better overall health than patients who do not, according to the latest scientific research. The evidence is so striking that, according to the September 19th 2006 issue of The Wall Street Journal, several health plans have taken notice and decided to cover tooth cleanings as part of their overall medical package in the hopes that there will be a decrease in the incidence of premature deliveries, diabetes, and heart disease.
Common signs of gum disease include bleeding gums or pus between the teeth. Left untreated, this chronic infection can destroy the bone that supports the teeth and may lead to tooth loss. Those at risk for cardiovascular disease should consult with a dentist for a periodontal screening and evaluation.