Periodontal Disease, Heart Disease and Stroke

Periodontal disease, heart disease and stroke may seem to be unlikely bedfellows, but researchers have found that gum disease sufferers are nearly twice as likely to also suffer from coronary heart disease.  In addition, research studies have discovered that oral infection is indeed a risk factor for stroke.  People diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to also be experiencing some degree of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition in which the gingival tissue surrounding the teeth is infected by the colonization of bacteria.  Bacteria found in plaque colonize first above, then below the g gumline causing the tissue to pull away from the teeth.  If periodontal disease is left untreated, deep pockets form between the gums and the teeth and the tissue of the underlying jawbone is also destroyed.  The destruction of bone tissue causes the teeth to shift, wobble or completely detach from the bone.

Coronary heart disease occurs when the walls of the coronary arteries become progressively thicker due to the buildup of fatty proteins.  The heart then suffers from a lack of oxygen and must labor significantly harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.  Coronary heart disease sufferers sometimes experience blood clots which obstruct normal blood flow and reduce the amount of vital nutrients and oxygen the heart needs to function properly.  This phenomenon often leads to heart attacks.

Reasons for the Connection

There is little doubt that the presence of periodontal disease can exacerbate existing heart conditions.  The periodontist and cardiologist generally work as a team in order to treat individuals experiencing both conditions.

There are several theories which may explain the link between heart disease, stroke and periodontal disease, which include the following:

  • Oral bacteria affect the heart – There are many different strains of periodontal bacteria.  Researchers assert that some of these strains of bacteria enter the bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in the heart blood vessels (coronary arteries).  This attachment then contributes to clot formation causing grave danger to the individual.

  • Inflammation – Periodontal disease causes severe inflammation in the gum tissue which elevates the white blood cell count and also the high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels.  Research studies have shown that elevated levels of C-reactive proteins have been linked to heart disease.

  • Infectious susceptibility – Individuals who experience particularly high levels of oral bacteria may have weaker immune systems and an inadequate host inflammatory response.  These factors may induce specific vascular effects which have previously been shown to contribute in the onset of certain forms of heart disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Since periodontal disease appears to be a risk factor for both heart attack and stroke, it is extremely important to seek immediate treatment.  Initially, the periodontist will conduct thorough examinations to assess the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone.  X-rays can be helpful in determining whether bone loss is prevalent in the upper and lower jaw.

The dentist is able to conduct deep cleaning treatments such as scaling and root planing to remove hardened calculus (tartar) deposits from the gum pockets.  An antibiotic may be prescribed to ensure that the bacterium is completely destroyed and the periodontal infection does not spread.  In most cases, periodontal disease can be prevented with regular cleanings and proper home care.

If you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease and its relation to heart disease and stroke, please ask your dentist.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

I've had the privilege of going to Dr. Howard since young (decades). Now my entire family has chosen Dr. Howard and Dr. Alan Igasaki as our dentists. Both are calm, soothing, gentle and amazing dentists. Dr. Alan also specializes in periodontics which helped the extensive gum work we had to do over the years. The entire staff is super friendly and fun. There wasn't one visit I didn't leave laughing or encouraged by some one on the staff.

The doctors work well together and often seek each other's opinion. I appreciate that they're always educating themselves and using the latest technology. Dr. Alan used the laser on my son's gum procedure with no bleeding and minimal pain. They also allow you to bring your own music in and can play movies on a special eyeglass video screen. We often didn't want to leave since the "movie wasn't over." I get pretty anxious with any dental work. I watched a relaxing movie about Hawaii and the ocean. Both doctors are soothing and often talk to you a long time previous to treatment. It helps a lot. They're gentle also and will ask you for feedback if there's pain or discomfort. Very empathetic doctors as well as being brilliant clinically is rare. Highly recommended!!!

M D.

I cannot believe I am giving ANY dentist that I have personally seen any stars. But I must say Dr. Howard Igaskai, deserves every single one of them. I am not an easy person to get into a dental office let alone a dental chair! My fear of dentist started as a child & never went away. Dr. Howard aka Papa Howard, knew of my anxiety & went as far as unbuttoning his top collar & removing his coat just to make me feel at ease. I honestly have major trust issues w/dentist. I have horrible teeth due to the lack of dental care. I need a lot of work & it took a lot for me to even make this appointment. With that being said Dr. Howard took his time to explain & examine everything. I have to admit I didn't trust him from the get go & had a stink face but as the appointment went on he made me feel comfortable enough to make me want to return to his office. Yes, you read that right. I will go BACK....WILLINGLY! I'm still afraid & nervous as heck but from the front desk ladies, to the dental assistants & Dr. Howard....thank you! Thank you for NOT giving up on me. Thank you for making me feel comfortable enough to want to return. I'll see you again (still anxious) but I will be there.

Diana A.

I am SO honored to be able to rate and provide information on my dentist's office. In a world where people freak out about seeing the dentist, I LOVE mine! The front staff is great (very welcoming and informative), Elsie is my favorite hygienist (very inviting and great to talk to - even with tools in your mouth!), and Dr. Howard is da bomb! This is the one doctor I see religiously!

My parents were smart in taking me with them to the dentist (they are patients here, as well) when I was very young. I don't recall what age I was when Dr. Howard first started treating me, but I don't ever recall not knowing or feeling comfortable with him. And, now that I'm old, he still asks about my migraines, my family, and is just very pleasant to speak with any time I do.

I wanted to whiten my teeth and he told me no - that mine are naturally bright. He could have done it anyway, but that's just one way he is always looking out for me.

God willing, I will NEVER not have the wonderful folks here as my dental professionals! I always get compliments on my teeth!

Anika C.

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Contact Us.We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.
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