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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.

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Testimonials

5 star rating 8/30/2017
Dr. Thai has been my dentist for over 3 years now and I'm still fully satisfied with this office! The main thing I like about this office is that they really care about the patient.
So if you're looking for an office that pays attention to personalized care and a dentist that listens to your needs and concerns, this is the office for you!
They accept most insurances so if you're not sure if they are in network, make sure to give them a call and they will help you through the process!

CK in Sunnyvale on 08/30/2017

5.0 star rating 3/13/2016
I strongly disagree with Peter Z. I doubt that his review is for Dr Thai. I've been with Dr. Thai for 2 years and she never did what Peter Z has described. Dr. Thai is not a pushy person, I don't believe she would repeatedly up-sell unnecessary procedures to her patients. She is professional, knowledgable, skillful, experienced, down to earth, sincere, friendly. There are a lot of great values I found on her as an outstanding dentist.

I would highly recommend her to anybody.

Richard via Yelp

5.0 star rating 11/20/2015
1 check-in
This review is long overdue! I have been a patient of Dr. Thai for over 7 years now. I concur with the other reviews that she is sincere, friendly, and will go above and beyond to help with getting your dental needs taken care of. She would take the time to answer all of my questions and was very thorough with her cleanings, screenings, and overall dental care. The best thing about her is that she is gentle and patient. If you happen to see her during the holiday season, you may get a chance to try her homemade muffins or cookies. Her assistant told me that she loves to bake during the holidays, and she would share them with patients and colleagues. Her office even have cool dental items like bacon, pickle, and cupcake toothpaste/floss for you to try. So if you want a personalized and friendly office where the dentist knows all of her patients by name, then I highly recommend Dr. Thai. You won't be disappointed.

Chip via Yelp

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