Previous studies have found the incidence of heart disease is about twice as high in people with periodontal (gum) disease, but until recently no plausible cause has been suggested. Now studies indicate that the most common strain of bacteria in dental plaque may cause blood clots. When blood clots escape into the bloodstream, there is a relation to increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.
People with periodontal disease (over one half the adult population) have an infection that causes chronic inflammation of the gums. Also, it is a path for these bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
A recent study describes the association between heart disease and gum disease to be at least as strong as the linkage of heart disease to cholesterol, body weight, or smoking.