Our office recently took part in an LVI Comprehensive Hygeine course which focused on recent studies that suggest the health of the mouth and body are significantly linked. Although this research is still developing, there is strong evidence that infection in the oral cavity increases the risk and elevates the complications associated with numerous diseases and conditions, in particular heart disease and stroke.
Many diseases of the heart and blood vessels are due to the thickening of artery walls, known as atherosclerosis. This condition results from fat deposits as well as inflammation within the artery. Infections elsewhere in the body contribute to this inflammatory damage in the arteries.
To put it simply, healthy gums do not bleed. One of the most obvious signs of gum disease is gums which bleed while brushing or eating because of the inflammatory tissue response of the bacteria in the mouth. These oral bacteria are allowed to enter the blood stream and travel throughout the body, namely the heart, when bleeding in the mouth occurs. Research has shown that bacteria from gum infections could be one of the infections causing infammatory damage in the arteries. Due to the inflammation because of the presence of bacteria in the blood stream, the artery reacts by becoming less elastic and increasing the thickness of its walls. Next, blood clots may form causing the arteries to become clogged and cutting off blood flow. This lack of blood flow is what causes a heart attack or stroke, depending on where the clot occurs.