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Gum Disease and Heart Disease: What's the Connection?

Feb 12, 2024
Gum Disease and Heart Disease: What's the Connection?
Did you know that gum disease and heart disease are connected? It’s true! Continue reading to learn more about these two conditions and what you can do to reduce your risk of both of them.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in America, and since this is American Heart Month, we want to focus on the connection between gum disease and heart disease. 

You can reduce your risk of heart disease by exercising more, managing conditions like hypertension, and eating balanced meals. You can also protect your heart by taking care of your gums. 

In honor of American Heart Month, our team of dentists at Smile Design Studio of Bethesda explains how gum and heart diseases are connected, how to reduce your risks, and what you can do to manage gum disease.

What’s the connection between gum disease and heart disease?

These two diseases may seem unrelated, but research suggests there’s more than meets the eye. Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, involves inflammation and infection of your gums and supporting structures of the teeth. 

The same bacteria associated with gum disease 一 Porphyromonas gingivalis  一 has been found in the plaques that clog arteries in cases of coronary artery disease. British researchers found nearly 66% of people who had recently had heart attacks also had gum disease. 

On top of that, they found the people who had more P. gingivalis in their mouth had more extensive heart damage. That’s because P. gingivalis damages your endothelium (the lining of your blood vessels) and creates an imbalance that’s just right for atherosclerosis. 

Higher levels of P. gingivalis also lead to more troponin (a protein) in your blood and more fatty deposits in your arteries. 

To sum up the connection: The more bad bacteria you have in your mouth, the higher the risk those bacteria can cause damage to your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.

Gum disease and heart disease share risk factors

Several risk factors contribute to both gum disease and heart disease, intensifying the connection between the two:

Poor oral hygiene

Inadequate oral hygiene practices can lead to the accumulation of plaque and foster the development of gum disease. The same oral bacteria can travel through your bloodstream and contribute to arterial plaque formation.

Smoking and tobacco usage

Smoking is a significant risk factor for both gum disease and heart disease. It weakens your immune system and makes it harder to fight off infections in your gums. 

Additionally, smoking contributes to the narrowing of blood vessels, which only magnifies your risk of heart problems.


Diabetes is a systemic condition that increases your risk of gum disease and heart disease. In fact, if you have diabetes, you have double the risk for developing heart disease compared to someone who doesn’t have diabetes.

Poorly controlled diabetes can impair your body's ability to fight infections, including those in your gums.

Chronic inflammation

Chronic inflammation wreaks havoc on your body, and unfortunately, it’s common in both gum and heart diseases. Inflammation creates an environment conducive to the progression of these conditions. 

Take care of your oral health to protect your heart

In honor of American Heart Month, take action against gum disease for the sake of your heart. You can:

  • Improve your at-home brushing routine
  • Brush at a 45-degree angle along your gums
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings
  • Stop smoking 
  • Manage any underlying conditions (like diabetes) that can affect your gum health
  • Eat more foods that are good for your gums, including food rich in vitamin C like citrus fruits and strawberries 

If you already have gum disease, don’t wait until your symptoms get worse before reaching out for help. The earlier you treat gum disease, the better it is. Our team offers root scaling and planning as well as laser therapy for gum disease. 

Do you have questions about your gums? Call us at 301-907-8201 to make an appointment at our Bethesda, Maryland, office. Or simply click here to use our online form.