When You Let Plaque Attack
A few blog posts back I wrote about a course I attended connecting gum disease and heart disease. The speaker, Amy Doneen, talked about the link between the two for over three hours! I just finished reading her book- Beat the Heart Attack Gene and want you to understand this connection. I’ll condense her talk ;). I recommend you read this book. It may literally mean the difference between life and death!
Strokes and heart attacks don’t “just happen”. They occur when the plaque in your arteries becomes inflamed, smolders and then ruptures the artery’s inner wall, then your blood clots around this rupture. It’s the clot that then blocks your arteries, causing either a heart attack- if the clot travels to the heart, or a stroke- if it travels to your brain. If you have no plaque then there is no potential for either- that’s ideal! How does the plaque we do have to catch on fire? Unfortunately, lots of ways. Smoking, obesity, inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, and … PERIODONTAL DISEASE (yes, gum disease)! Chronic inflammation is also a trigger, and so many people have chronic, bleeding gums for many years.
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Gum disease most definitely lights the fire in the arteries. As much as 30% of heart attacks may be caused by the bacteria from the mouth. 75% of the time tooth decay bacteria have been found in the clot, and 35% of the time the researchers have found gum disease bacteria in clots! The bacteria from your mouth can light the fire that triggers an eruption that can cause death or at least debilitation! Let’s find out how much of this bacteria you have in your mouth, and get rid of it. Wouldn’t you like to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke?
Your dental office can and should monitor your levels of gum disease bacteria. The company our office uses is OralDNA. They can tell us what disease bacteria you have and at what levels they are with just a simple saliva test. Also, OralDNA can test for a gene called Interleukin 1 (Il-1). Carriers of this gene have a more acute response to any inflammation, and are more prone to chronic inflammation. AND, these people are four times more prone to have aggressive gum disease! Yes, you read that correctly, – carriers of this Il-1 gene are more likely to have more severe gum disease/bone loss, and an increased risk of inflamed arteries. Wouldn’t you like to know that at age 20 as opposed to age 65? Or even better, how about if your children know it now! People Il-1 positive would do best to see their dental professionals every three months, and see their physician to test how inflamed their arteries are much more often. (Ms. Doneen tells how to do that in her book.)
Think beyond your “twice yearly cleanings” and think instead about a healthy mouth, heart and brain! Invest some time, and money into your oral health. Your dental health professionals can help you avoid heart disease, strokes, and possibly other systemic diseases just by improving your oral hygiene. In future posts I’ll review what our offices does to help reduce and kill the bad gum disease bacteria in the mouth. (We have reviewed tooth decay bacteria elimination already in my previous blog post: Conquering Cavities in Kids) Since inflammation is the real villain of aging and deterioration, let’s fight it! Don’t resign yourself to aging poorly! Your mouth shares its bacteria with the rest of the body. Take charge of your oral health. Your whole body health is vital to your well being and a good quality of life. It is indeed, a life or death decision.