For Your Health

Cardiovascular Disease and Dental Disease are Genetically Linked

Cardiovascular disease is preventable in many patients. It is estimated that 70% of the adult population in the United States has periodontal disease. Chronic inflammation, of which periodontal disease is the most common, is a leading risk factor in developing heart disease. Genetic testing has determined that the plaque that builds up below the gumline is the same plaque that deposits in the arteries and causes atherosclerosis.

Research shows over 90% of all systemic diseases – including heart disease – have oral symptoms. A sore or painful jaw could indicate an impending heart attack or heart disease, making bi-annual visits to the dentist an important investment in one’s oral as well as overall health. Careful dental examinations of patients with a history of heart disease for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation paired with proper treatment is crucial to overall health. By eliminating a local infection involving a tooth or the gums, patients have been able to decrease blood pressure medications and improve overall health. Communication with dentists and doctors is critical in the proper diagnosis and treatment of all diseases, especially heart disease, since the longer it goes untreated there is an increased risk of heart attack. New studies suggest that people who have gum disease are at higher risk for heart attack. If bacteria in the infected gums dislodge, they can enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. Clots decrease the blood supply flow to the heart and can increase changes of a heart attack and aggravate higher blood pressure.

Conversely, treating a patient with a heart condition can exacerbate the problem if the patient does not share a complete medical history, including all medications they are taking. Make sure that you update your medical history and medication information with your dentist at every visit.

Signs of gum disease include bleeding or puffy gums, bad breath, sores in the mouth, receding gums, pus or infection between gums and teeth and/or gums that pull away from the teeth. Preventing plaque buildup by brushing and flossing regularly helps minimize the chance for getting gum disease. Seeing the dentist every six months can help identify gum disease as well as overall health problems in their earliest stages. Dentists know that your teeth and gums hold important clues to overall health and can work with you to reduce your risk and treat current health problems.

Dr. William Wolfson is one of five dentists at Morris Park Dental, which emphasizes general family dental care as well as cosmetic procedures. The office is available to provide more information at (718) 863-5077, or visit Morris Park Dental on-line at

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