Because the mouth is a pathway to the body, people who have chronic gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Gum disease (called gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in the late stages) is caused by plaque buildup.
Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. It has also been suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.
It only makes sense that oral and heart health are linked. An unhealthy mouth holds countless amounts of bacteria and is susceptible to bleeding gums. The chances of bacteria entering the bloodstream increase significantly with poor oral health. The heart is the core of the cardiovascular system and is responsible for pumping all blood throughout the body. If that blood carries toxins, it is bound to affect the heart in one way or another.
Although there has been some debate over the years, including a statement by the American Medical Association that stated the lack of connection between heart disease and oral health that was rescinded 24 hours later due to lack of evidence and due to a backlash of reputable studies done by the American Dental Association, it is abundantly clear that the health of your mouth can affect the health of your heart. All the more reason to get regular dental checkups and to inform your dentist of any changes you notice regarding your oral health.