When you think about how to keep your heart healthy, you probably don’t think about taking care of your gums. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that we should! Recent research into the connection between overall and oral health shows that the wellbeing of your gums can influence your risk of heart disease. Your Painesville dentist explains how gum disease and heart health are connected as well as what you can do to keep yourself healthy.
What is Gum Disease?
You probably know that brushing regularly is an important part of cleaning away plaque in your mouth. If it builds up, the bacteria it contains causes cavities and attacks your gum tissue. If a bacterial infection develops in your gums, it’s known as periodontal (gum) disease. Thankfully, the earliest stages can be treated and reversed with improved oral hygiene before they cause permanent damage. However, if left untreated, the advanced stages of gum disease can cause:
- Permanent gum recession.
- Painful chewing and loose teeth.
- Jawbone damage and tooth loss.
How Are Gum Disease & Heart Health Connected?
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the US, but experts believe that its effects don’t stop at your smile. A 2014 study of heart disease patients reported that those with gum disease had cardiovascular care costs 10-40% higher than those with healthy gums. More studies into this connection have discovered that gum disease can increase a patient’s risk of heart disease by up to 20%.
Much more research is needed to fully understand this relationship, but most researchers believe it’s due to two factors of gum disease: the bacteria and the inflammation it causes. If the dangerous bacteria that causes gum disease were to escape into the blood stream, they could travel to the heart and infect the inner linings of its chambers and valves. Additionally, if the immune system’s inflammatory response to gum disease were to spread throughout the body, the arteries could become clogged.
How Is Gum Disease Prevented?
Even though the connection between gum disease and heart health is unclear, the American Dental Association and the American Heart Association agree that there is an undeniable link. Thankfully, you can easily keep gum disease at bay by:
- Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day.
- Flossing all your teeth every day.
- Cutting back on bacteria-fueling sugary foods.
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
- Visiting your dentist twice a year for regular checkups.
If you’re concerned about your swollen, tender, or easily bleeding gums, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist to discover which treatment will most effectively restore your oral health. Remember, when you take care of your smile, your whole body will thank you!
About the Practice
At Painesville Dental Group, we care about your overall health just as much as your smile. Our talented team of dentists encourages all our patients to come in for regular checkups every six months to keep your dental health on track. However, if gum disease is detected, they offer a variety of advanced treatments like scaling and root planning, soft tissue laser, and antibiotic therapy to fully eliminate the bacterial infection. If you’re concerned about the health of your gums, please contact them via their website or at (440) 354-2183.