Why Does Gum Disease Correlate With Heart Disease?

People who have heart disease are more likely to have gum problems. Why? According to an online health magazine from the University of Texas,

Medical researchers have two main theories to explain the link between gum disease and heart disease . . . One theory is that the bacteria from periodontal disease enter the blood stream and stick to the blood vessels, creating a thickening of the walls, which may end up clogging these vessels. The second theory is that the chemical by-products from gum disease cause the same clogging effect. The chemicals may come from the by-products of the bacteria or from the chemicals produced by the body’s own immune system.

A third possibility, not mentioned in the article, is that both gum disease and heart disease are caused by too much inflammation.

The three cases I described yesterday, in which high-omega-3 oils rapidly eliminated gum disease, convince me that the third possibility is correct. When you take 2 tablespoons/day flaxseed oil or 1 teaspoon/day fish oil, you are not killing the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria remain as plentiful as ever. The difference is that your body is no longer overreacting to them. Plenty of evidence suggests that heart disease is caused by too much inflammation. This correlation is more evidence.

Why omega-3s reduce inflammation is known. The body requires omega-3 to build an anti-inflammatory signaling molecule. Not enough omega-3, not enough of this molecule, too much inflammation.

2 Replies to “Why Does Gum Disease Correlate With Heart Disease?”

  1. Gum disease and heart disease may be associated because each is associated with diabetes/metabolic syndrome. Inflammation plays a role in MetS, as well, but whether it’s as cause or effect is unknown. Poor diet in general, not only the lack of omega-3 fats, is implicated. Omega-3 fats correct some but not all of the lipid abnormalities of MetS.

  2. My own take on this is somewhat different.

    I have rheumatoid arthritis and chronically elevated CRP (C-Reactive Protein) levels, indicating high levels of inflammation in my body. I also have healthy pink gums. This may be as a result of drinking the oil – certainly in part I’m sure. But despite the health of my mouth, I continue to have high inflammation levels elsewhere in my body.

    One thing I have noticed (as I do not take the oil religiously, but rather sloppily, and thankfully still have weightloss, albeit slow), is that the ‘fur’ on my tongue is considerably less whenever I drink the oil. I use hempseed oil, and this is known to have mild antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

    There is virtually no tongue ‘fur’ when I use the oil, and there can be quite a lot when I don’t, especially if I eat a lot of sugar. I use oral steroids, such as prednisone, to combat my arthritis and these meds and others make me prone to being a bit yeasty. I think this may be what the ‘fur’ on my tongue is, or else it’s bacterial.

    Either way, I wonder whether the flaxseed oil you use Seth is antibacterial/antifungal as well? And whether keeping the mouth bacteria down is what’s keeping your gums (and hopefully heart) healthy.

    I agree that CRP is a major marker for heart disease, much more so than cholesterol or good/bad fats, but as my CRP is always very high – always more than 20 and often more than 60 – and my gums are pink and tongue free of fur, it makes me wonder if the oil is controlling bacteria, more than inflammation?

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