It's National Heart Month. Time to see the periodontist?
Posted on 2/2/2013 by Implant & Periodontal Associates NW
According to the National Institute of Health, over 75% of adults over 40 have one or more risk factors for coronary heart disease. These factors include a diet high in fat and sugar, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, and surprisingly, periodontal disease.
A growing body of evidence suggests that chronic inflammation and buildup of oral plaque can contribute to heart attack and stroke. And although brushing and flossing can help reduce the risk, for some patients, it's not enough.
Inflammation is a major culprit.
Several studies have pointed to inflammation as the primary risk factor for heart disease. When any tissue in the body becomes inflamed, a substance called C-reactive protein is produced. C-reactive protein has been found to be a strong predictor of future heart attacks. Because periodontal disease is characterized by chronic inflammation, this means c-reactive protein is being constantly introduced into the bloodstream.
Oral plaque also contributes to blood clots.
Dental plaque is also a contributing factor to heart disease, and one of the underlying causes of periodontitis. When it builds up, it produces acids that erode tooth enamel and gum tissue. But dental plaque can also enter the bloodstream and contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
Periodontal maintenance visits can cut your risk.
While it's theoretically possible to prevent plaque buildup with good oral self-care, patients with previous periodontal disease should get regular maintenance visits to ensure it does not return. On the flip side, people with a high risk of heart disease should also make their periodontal health a priority.
Because periodontitis often has few symptoms in its early stages, it's recommended that adults over 40 get evaluated for periodontal disease at least once a year. If you're due for an exam or maintenance visit, call 425.486.9111 to schedule an appointment now.