Periodontal disease is a type of gum disease that is not just bad news for your teeth, but it can affect your overall health. There are two main types of gum disease; gingivitis, which causes red and painful gums, and periodontitis. Periodontal disease can range from simple gum inflammation to serious damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth, and in worst cases, the teeth are lost. More worryingly, however, periodontal disease can also lead to serious conditions including heart attacks and ischaemic strokes. An ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke and occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
A new study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017, suggests that people with periodontal disease have an increased chance of having an ischaemic stroke than those without the disease. The study suggested that:
Patients with mild periodontal disease were 1.9 times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke.
Patients with moderate periodontal disease were 2.1 times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke.
Patients with severe periodontal disease were 2.2 times more likely to have an ischaemic stroke.
With statistics like this, it is worth looking after your mouth for the benefit of your whole-body health. Gum disease can largely be prevented and treated by thorough and regular brushing of the teeth. Gum disease is mainly caused by bacteria that has formed from plaque build-up, so working to reduce this occurrence is very important as research has shown that poor dental hygiene and bleeding gums can allow up to 700 types of bacteria to enter the bloodstream. The outcome of periodontal disease can be that the body causes too much inflammation and over-reacts to the bacteria, or the inflammation does not clear up properly. The inflammation can affect the bloodstream and damage the blood vessels in the heart and brain over time causing heart attacks and strokes.
It is, therefore, important to have your teeth professionally checked and cleaned regularly by your dentist and hygienist. Your dentist can see what problems may be occurring in your mouth, and give you the professional help and advice needed to prevent serious problems. Your hygienist can clean all surfaces of your teeth and remove harmful bacteria and deposits that you may not be able to remove at home.