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What is the connection between chronic tooth infections and heart disease?

Does it have something to do with an inflammatory response in the heart muscle, valves?
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Featured Answer

(1) Upvoted
Not necessarily in the valves, but the inflammatory mediators create and environment that builds plaques in the walls of arteries and veins. The possibility of getting a clogged vessel is much more significant when a chronic inflammatory process (especially gum disease) is present.
(1) Upvoted
Chronic tooth infections, different than periodontal disease, causes a stream of bacteria to enter the blood stream. This bacterial leads to risk of a heart infection better know as bacterial endocarditis.
(1) Upvoted
Yes, there is a correlation between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. Adult patients with chronic periodontal disease are more predisposed to have subsequent heart disease.
The culprit is bacteria. In recent studies, the same bacteria found in calculus ( dental plaque that has mineralized and lies under the gums) has been found in atherosclerotic plaques lining coronary vessels.
It is essential that patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease see a dentist regularly for routine exams and cleanings.

Hope this helps!!!
Dr. Michael Shnorhavorian, DDS
(1) Upvoted
Paul Edwards is correct to a certain degree Chronic inflammation leads to an increase in CRP's. C-Reactive proteins. This is usually the result of gum disease(periodontits). CRP's are inflammatory intermediaries which when present at elevated levels can accelerate buildup and blockage in arteries of individuals with elevated cholesterol levels(atherosclerosis). Slightly different than an acute infection which can cause more immediate problems. Particularly in individuals with a history of bacterial endocarditis, those with a heart murmur with regurgitation, and or those with an artificial heart valve.
(1) Upvoted
Persistent bacteria, which is chronic in the tooth, may lead to bacteria getting into the blood and attaching to the heart tissue causing endocarditis. If there is an inflammatory response, it may cause white blood cells to release antibodies. If there is a persistent release of antibodies, it may cause an autoimmune infection where your immune cells will attack your own tissue.
(1) Upvoted
Chronic tooth infections would likely produce some inflammatory reaction just as periodontal (gum+bone) infection does. So, there is a battle between bacteria and its released toxins versus the the body's immunological defenses. The outcome in both cases to the body is an increase in C-reactive protein production into the physiological system. This eventually creates a systemic inflammatory reaction from a localized area via the blood system's vessels. According to scientists studying heart disease in a Time magazine article some years back , this generalized inflammatory reaction resulting in C-reactive protein is a far greater risk for worsening of heart disease through the damage of the arteries, etc..and higher risk of a stroke than a high cholesterol level. So, it is very important to maintain consistent brushing and flossing routine to maintain healthy gum, bones and also generalized health of the body.