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Heart health: It all begins in your mouth

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— By Swapnil Mishra | Oct 07, 2018 08:30 am

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Mumbai: Poor oral health has been debated as a possible cause of heart disease for many years. Research suggests that periodontitis is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease and that people with chronic gum disease have increased thickness of their neck blood vessels. Research reveals that gum diseases are indeed a marker for heart disease. Observational studies show a correlation between dental and oral infections and coronary artery disease (CAD) leading to heart attack and other problems. Poor oral health can affect other parts of the body and vice versa.

In this backdrop, the Indian Society of Cardiology and the Indian Dental Association (IDA) have joined hands for the promotion of better health of the community. Good oral hygiene will keep your heart healthy and smiling. Dr Ashok Dhoble, Secretary of IDA said people with periodontitis often have risk factors which not only put their mouth at risk but their heart and blood vessels as well. “Periodontitis and heart diseases both contribute to inflammation in the body. This link between gum disease and cardiovascular ailments has long been known. The scary reality is that people with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease,” added Dr Dhoble.

Periodontitis is inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It is one of the most common human diseases. Periodontal disease may be modestly associated with atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, and cardiovascular events. Dr R K Gokhroo, President, Indian Society of Cardiology, said oral health is reflection of overall well-being.

“The presence of inflammation in the conditions such as periodontitis, gingivitis, pulpal or root canal infections, pose an increased risk of the bacteria from the mouth travelling through the bloodstream and infecting the cardiac tissue. In India, rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is prevalent and these patients are at increased risk of endocarditis . Infective endocarditis (IE) often is caused by bacteria that colonize teeth,” he said.

He further added they have scientific evidence that good oral hygiene and gingival health, are associated with a reduced risk of developing bacteraemia, which may translate into a reduced risk of developing IE. “This becomes even more important in the context of Indian population, where rheumatic heart disease is prevalent and the reason for significant morbidity and mortality in young generation,” Dr Gokhroo said.

Mouth matters
Gum diseases are rampant worldwide and have serious health consequences, if left untreated. The mouth is the mirror of the body, hence any ailment of the oral cavity leading to bacteraemia, may affect other important systems of the body like the Cardiovascular, Endocrine, Nervous among others.

Many studies have shown that periodontitis is interlinked with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and coronary artery disease. Periodontitis, which is a polymicrobial disease, can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and may lead to chronic inflammation, which may lead to coronary artery disease. Hence oral health is of paramount importance, and the public should be educated about maintaining good oral hygiene. To conclude, a healthy mouth helps to maintain a healthy body.

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