Periodontal disease—or advanced gum disease—is one of the most common inflammatory diseases in adults. In fact, about a quarter of Canadians lives with the early stages of periodontal disease, and about 1 in 5 live with periodontal disease.

But, how serious can it be?

Well, research indicates poor oral health and periodontal disease is associated with heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Read on to learn more about the risks, the connection and what you can do to take control of your health.

About Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease, sometimes abbreviated as CVD, refers to a group of disorders that affect the heart and blood vessels. The most common of these disorders is ischemic heart disease (sometimes referred to as coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease), which can lead to heart attack.

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, obesity, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol, hypertension (also known as high blood pressure), and diabetes.

Many Saskatchewan residents experience CVD and its negative outcomes. For instance, in 2014/15, as many as 1 in 12 Saskatchewan adults 20 years and older lived with heart disease, and 1 in 20 adults 40 years or older had heart failure.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. More people die annually from this group of diseases than from any other cause. And while that statistic may make it seem like a foregone conclusion, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular oral health care can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, giving you better health outcomes and quality of life.

The Link Between Your Oral Health and Your Heart

The link between your heart health and oral health has long been explored. Two early studies, conducted in 1983 and 1989, reported a significant association between the severity of oral disease and heart attack, and indicated that poor oral hygiene and severe periodontal disease were both associated with a greater incidence of heart disease. Other studies have also determined that there is an express link between the care and health of your gums and teeth, and the health of your heart.

Studies have demonstrated that treatment for periodontal disease can affect markers of cardiovascular disease including lowering inflammation markers in the body and a reduction in thickening of the inner walls of the arteries. Dental treatment is also associated with improved function in the inner lining of the arteries, veins and capillaries; including improving outcomes related to development of blood clots, narrowing of the arteries and lowering inflammation.

The Risks Are Serious

The inflammation of periodontal disease not only has a negative impact on other systems in the body, putting a strain on overall health, it also directly impacts cardiovascular health. Periodontal disease can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by 24% to 35%.

What’s the bottom line? Your oral health matters.

What Can You Do?

Taking care of your gums and teeth is important to your heart health. And, not just in your older age. Developing good health habits can start at any time. These habits should not only include proper brushing and flossing but regular visits to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings.

Taking care to create good health and lifestyle habits, like practicing good oral hygiene, significantly decreases the risk of developing periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease.

This may be obvious, but the research is clear—taking care of your oral health can lead to better overall long-term health outcomes.

Find a Saskatchewan Dentist

All dentists are required to be licensed by meeting specific requirements and training and it is often a matter of taking the time to find the best "fit" for you. A phone call to the office or a visit to the dentist’s website may provide help with regard to language options, location, accessibility, insurance and payment options, hours of operation, recall programs, and more.