Researchers at the American Dental Association are finding possible links between gum infections and cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that periodontal disease may be a more serious risk factor for heart disease than high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, gender, and age. People who have gum disease seem to be at a higher risk for heart attacks. One reason may be that bacteria present in infected gums can become loose and move throughout the body. This same bacteria could travel to the arteries and irritate them, causing arterial plaque to form, which contributes to the hardening of the arteries. Communication with your dentist and doctor is critical in the proper diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. Regular dental examinations are crucial for patients with a history of heart disease to check for any signs of oral pain, infection, or gum inflammation.