Check us out on YouTube as we talk teeth #watchyourmouthSpanish
Check us out on YouTube as we talk teeth #watchyourmouthSpanish

Gum Disease and Your Heart

The Connection Between Oral Health and Systemic Health

Here are some things you need to know about gum disease and how it can affect your heart and your overall health. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the same bacteria that make the plaque in your mouth is also the same bacteria that they’ve found in plaque in your arteries. So we’re starting to make a lot of connections between oral health and overall systemic health.

Inflammation and Its Role in Heart Health

One of the big buzzwords in oral health that we’re starting to tie into overall health is the word inflammation. If you read any of the literature on heart disease and cardiac health, inflammation is a big indicator of cardiac distress, heart attacks, and angina issues that are damaging to the arteries.

Oral Bacteria and Plaque Formation

The problem is the plaque gets layered in there, and the arteries aren’t able to stretch and move anymore. And a really interesting study came out where they took those bacteria out of a heart plaque in the heart and the arteries, and it’s the same bacteria that are in your mouth. So the big take-home message is if you have an unhealthy mouth with lots of bacteria that you’re not cleaning and not taking care of, a lot of times that can travel into your bloodstream, whether it’s from chewing foods, you get a slight laceration just daily life, your bacteria can get taken into the bloodstream, and they can start to build plaques in the heart.

The Importance of Regular Dental Checkups

There’s a whole host of issues that can happen in your whole body that can be traced back to untreated and undiagnosed periodontal disease. And that’s one of the main reasons why we stress and push so hard for our patients to come in every six months: within six months, you can have some changes in your oral health. And if you go long enough without anybody diagnosing it, it can have some pretty impactful problems on the rest of your body.

Comparing Periodontal Disease to Cardiovascular Disease

I had a great mentor who always told me periodontal disease is very much like cardiovascular disease. You don’t really feel it because it’s a slow progression. It’s a loss of bone; it’s a loss of tissue. In the heart, it’s just the slow hardening of those arteries. And by the time you realize it, dentally speaking, a tooth falls out. All of a sudden, you’re tooth wobbling, cardiovascularly speaking, you have a heart attack, you have a stroke. These are things that we can do. I don’t want to say we can prevent them or eliminate them, but there are lots of ways that we can modify and change the things that we catch early to kind of improve our overall health.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

So periodontal disease is when the bacteria in your mouth actually attack the gum and bone tissue that surround your teeth and kind of anchor them in place. So, over time, as you lose that gum and bone tissue, less and less of that tooth is anchored in the bone, eventually leading to mobile teeth and tooth loss.

Genetics and Home Care

Periodontal disease is primarily caused by the bacteria in your mouth. The majority of periodontal disease is really just a genetic lottery. It’s kind of the bacteria that you get are either going to be the ones that attack your teeth, they’re going to be the ones that attack your bone and tissue, or they’re going to be happy, healthy bacteria. Some people have one kind, and some people have both. Unfortunately, some people are blessed with the bacteria that they can; I hate to say it as a dentist, but they can have horrible hygiene and horrible home care, and besides bad breath, there’s really nothing going wrong. But that’s a really small part of the population. The majority of us have the ones that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re going to get decay or we’re going to get periodontal disease.

Preventing Periodontal Disease

While periodontal disease is based on the bacteria that you have in your mouth, if you do have bacteria that could cause periodontal disease and you don’t do proper home care proper hygiene, and it leads to inflammation of the gum tissue, which is called gingivitis, and if that goes untreated or uncorrected, that can lead to periodontal disease. So, it really is genetic. It really is home care. The best way to prevent it is a combination of the two.

The Mouth-Body Connection

So, the big take-home message is that the mouth is not an isolated organ away from the rest of your body. It really is intricately linked to your whole systemic health and well-being.

Impact on Others

So, by taking care of your mouth, you’re really kind of preventing any issues from sneaking around and causing overall body issues. And one interesting side note is it’s not just your mouth. They had a study. They found that people with periodontal disease if they kissed a baby or kissed their children, can actually transfer those periodontal-causing bacteria to their child or to somebody else’s child. So it’s one of those things if you could impact somebody else’s health and future by not caring for yourself.


So hopefully, you enjoyed our video, and if you learned anything or if you had anything you’d like to add, hit the like button. Comment in the section below. We’d love to hear from you. Make sure you follow our YouTube channel. We’ve got lots of other great videos. And again, I’m Dr. Brett Langston helping you watch your mouth, which is nasty to think about, but you think about that your Aunt Edna that wants to kiss your baby, she’s all don’t let her do it because she’s going to pass those bacteria that’s dental short for gnarly teeth with bacteria.