Larry P. Bleier D.M.D.
205 Washington Avenue Endicott, NY, 13760
Diplomate American Board of Periodontology
Specialist in Periodontics
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(607) 785-3007

Is gum disease a significant public health concern? Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest more American adults may have periodontal disease that "may have been underestimated by as much as 50 percent". The implication is that more Americans may suffer from moderate to severe gum disease than previously thought making it essential to correct periodontal disease earlier in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums, starting in childhood.

Quoting Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a Cardiologist, in Heart, Health & Nutrition, a Cardiologist's Guide to Total Wellness, "It's often been said the eyes are the windows of the soul; I think the mouth is the window of the heart. In fact, I can tell a lot about a patient's heart health by knowing what type of report they got from their dentist. That's because there's a very strong link between gum disease and heart disease risk."

"This isn't new. In 1998, the American Academy of Periodontology issued a strong warning that gum infections represent a 'far more serious threat' to health of millions of Americans than previously realized. However, it seems people are not giving this important issue the attention it deserves, which is why it stand to be repeated."

Heart Disease can start in your mouth. Studies have revealed a connection between dental health and cardiovascular health.

Gum disease is an infectious, inflammatory condition caused by bacteria growing on teeth in the form of a dental plaque biofilm. These infections, which can last for decades, put enormous stress on the immune system. Destructive microorganisms, inflammatory compounds, and poisonous waste materials from destroyed bacteria (endotoxins) can all seep from the mouth and circulate throughout the body-creating a systematic hyperimmune and inflammatory situation.

In the bloodstream, research has found periodontal bacterial biofilms invading susceptible arteries and defective heart valves. The bloodstream swarms with antibodies against these common oral microorganisms, but as the disease progresses, the antibodies also attack damaged tissue.

These microorganisms present in gum infections may get into the bloodstream and generate a direct inflammatory stimulus in the body, initiating or contributing to cardiovascular risk. Among the major organisms is Porphyromones gingivalis, a bacterium with a platelet aggregation effect, which means it can cause abnormal clotting.

Another indirect factor may relate to people who have a genetic hyprinflammatory response to infection. They react to localized gum infection by processing excess levels of inflammatory substance in the body-such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. High levels of these substances have been identified as risk factors for heart disease because they damage the arteries.