The relationship between gum disease and cardiovascular disease is an area of very active scientific interest. Both share a major common risk factor in smoking cigarettes, and others including age and diabetes which makes determining the true association between gum disease and heart disease difficult to determine. Smoking cessation is a very important component of any health maintenance and disease prevention program for both periodontal and heart disease.
Another association between these diseases is inflammation. Not only is inflammation a characteristic of gum disease but it is also a factor of cardiovascular disease. While the effects of gum disease may appear to be limited to the mouth, the level of inflammation in the whole body is elevated when gum disease is severe and treatment that resolves the inflammation of moderate to severe periodontitis results in less inflammation in the whole body. Another possibly important finding is bacteria associated with gum disease have been found in harmful deposits on the walls of certain cardiac blood vessels.
Patients and providers are increasingly presented with claims that if you treat the periodontal disease that you may be protecting against heart attacks. At this time the American Heart Association has said that statements that imply that periodontal disease causes specific heart problems or that treatments for periodontal disease can prevent heart disease or modify its outcomes are not warranted. The consensus of periodontists and cardiologists is that patients with moderate to severe periodontitis should be aware that their gum disease may be associated with cardiovascular problems particularly when the person has common risk factors for both diseases. So if you are an older adult, you have diabetes, you smoke and have moderate to severe gum disease, you may also want to have your physician check you for signs of cardiovascular disease.