Approximately 800,00 Americans die annually from cardiovascular disease. How does this relate to dentistry? The bacteria that cause gum disease and inflammation are the suspected culprit. There is now a greater link between patients with periodontal disease developing heart disease than those with high cholesterol. While the mechanism is not fully know the proposed scenario is that the bacteria from the infected gums enter the bloodstream through normal chewing or tooth brushing. It is them believed that these oral bacteria can adhere to the fatty plaque in the bloodstream. This can cause blockages to develop in the bloodstream to develop. These same bacteria can possibly trigger an inflammation response where blood vessels swell and slow blood flow contributing to clot formation. It is important that as a patient you monitor your gums for the signs of gum disease to protect your heart health. Swollen, red gums that bleed when brushed or flossed are not healthy. Gum tissue that is not firmly attached to teeth is not healthy. Pus between teeth or persistent bad breath is not healthy. If you have any of these symptoms see your dentist immediately for a treatment plan to improve your dental health and reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.