Heart Disease Can Start in Your Mouth

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Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Heart Disease Can Start in Your Mouth

In my cardiology practice, I often see patients with missing and loose teeth, bleeding gums, and foul breath—all signs of gum disease. This is not a minor problem, nor one that remains localized in the mouth. Studies have revealed a connection between dental health and cardiovascular health.

The Heart and Mouth Link

Gum disease is an infectious, inflammatory condition caused by bacteria growing on teeth in the form of a dental plaque biofilm. These infections, which can last for decades, put enormous stress on the immune system. Destructive microorganisms, inflammatory compounds, and poisonous waste materials from destroyed bacteria (endotoxins) can all seep from the mouth and circulate throughout the body—creating a systemic hyperimmune and inflammatory situation.

In the bloodstream, periodontal bacteria can invade susceptible arteries and defective heart valves. The bloodstream swarms with antibodies against these common oral microorganisms, but as the disease progresses, the antibodies also attack damaged tissue.

Infamous Inflammation

These microorganisms present in gum infections may also get into the bloodstream and generate a direct inflammatory stimulus in the body, initiating or contributing to cardiovascular risk. Among the major organisms is Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacterium with a platelet aggregation effect, which means it can cause abnormal clotting.

Another indirect factor may relate to people who have a genetic hyperinflammatory response to infection. They react to localized gum infection by producing excess levels of inflammatory substances in the body—such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6. High levels of these substances have been identified as risk factors for heart disease because they damage arteries.

Consider CoQ10

Over the years, I have often used CoQ10 to help my cardiovascular patients. Many of them who have also suffered from gum disease have told me their oral condition improved with high dosage CoQ10. It's thought that the antioxidant action of CoQ10 helps support and nourish healthy gums. So, for both heart and gum health—and general systemic benefits—you should be taking at least 90 mg of CoQ10 per day. I've even suggested that some patients chew up a CoQ10 pill or softgel and let it seep into the gum tissues. In addition, the dietary nutrients folic acid and vitamin C have both been linked to better overall gum health. 

 

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