There’s mounting evidence that brushing, flossing, regular dental
checkups and a healthy diet play a role in good cardiovascular
Chronic periodontal disease — which is caused by a number of
oral bacteria — appears to set off an inflammatory process that
exacerbates and contributes to the buildup of cholesterol-rich
plaque on artery walls.
The presence of a chronic infection in the mouth is very similar
to a chronic infection anywhere else in the body, in that it puts
stress on our body’s response system. The body responds to this
stress by sending certain biochemical elements through the
bloodstream, which create the plaque.
People with chronic infections — and gum disease is one of the
major chronic infections — are at increased risk later in life
for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and coronary
Some tips to keep bacteria from setting up house in your gums:
- Get an oral exam. A dentist can detect gum disease, gauge its
severity, and order treatment such as bacterial removal via
scaling and root-planing.
- Brush and floss regularly. The more frequently food is kept
away from teeth, the better, since regular cleaning robs oral
bacteria of the nutrients they crave.
- Reduce snacking. Every snack delivers a fresh meal to germs
that are hard at work destroying teeth and gums. If snacking is
unavoidable, at least avoid refined carbohydrates and other
processed foods. Fresh, whole vegetables and fruits are the best
snacks for oral health.
Taking care of your teeth is a necessary part of good health
and quality of life — and may have a protective effect on your
Source: Beck, JD et al, Systemic Effects of Periodontitis:
Epidemiology of Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease, J
Periodontol. 2005 Nov;76(11-s):2089-2100