Dentistry has evolved from treating teeth to recognizing a link between the conditions in the mouth and systemic diseases. Heart disease has long been referred to as the silent killer. People who are at high risk for having a heart attack may feel perfectly healthy. Despite feeling fine, however, they may have arthrosclerosis, or lipid plaque building up in their arteries. Plaque is mainly caused by chronic inflammation. This plaque can block the blood flow to the heart thus preventing an adequate amount of oxygen to reach the muscular wall of the heart, causing a heart attack
Periodontal disease can also be a silent ailment. It’s a chronic infection that occurs in the mouth. Bleeding, red and swollen gums and a bad odor are some of the signs of periodontal disease.

PLAC-2 is an independent marker for coronary endothelial dysfunction. It’s the only FDA cleared blood test to determine risk for ischemic stroke associated with atherosclerosis. One study also showed that periodontal disease is associated with elevated PLAC-2 levels. A second study found a direct association between atherosclerotic inflammation and periodontal disease.

Heart disease is not the only systemic disease that is connected to periodontal disease. There has been much research done that also connects diabetes. A 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontalology demonstrated that when the periodontal infection was cleared up there was improvement in the glycemic levels in type 2 diabetics. It appears that the low grade inflammation process that occurs in periodontal disease aggravates insulin resistance.

Heart disease, periodontal disease and diabetes connect relatively simply. Periodontitis is a chronic infection that occurs in up to 75% of people. This chronic inflammation is the primary causative agent of cardiovascular disease and increases insulin resistance. This worsens glycemic control. Insulin resistance is the primary cause of arthrosclerosis which can result in strokes and heart attacks.
Ask your dentist if you’re at risk of developing periodontal disease. You can do more than save your teeth by eliminating periodontal disease. You can save your life.