Gum disease and stroke may have more in common than meets the eye. Strokes happen when clots form in an artery, block it, and cut off the supply of oxygenated blood to part of the brain. It’s estimated that about 80% of all strokes begin in the arteries of the neck and head. In fact, some studies suggest that gum disease plays a major role in causing strokes.
Research has shown that inflammation triggered by periodontal disease can promote the formation of clots in the blood vessels in the neck, head, and brain. Researchers are investigating whether this inflammation may play a role in other health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia.
In addition to gum disease, the mouth plays an important role in overall health. Gum disease and tooth loss have been linked to an increased risk of stroke, because of the potential for blood clots to form in the mouth. These clots can lodge in the brain, leading to stroke. One study showed that after controlling for other risk factors, gum disease was more strongly associated with stroke than were other health conditions.