Can Gum Disease Affect Your Heart?
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. For years Arizona doctors and dentists have known there is a link between the health of your heart and the health of your gums. Now this has been corroborated by one of the biggest studies to date in this field. Indications are that gum disease may be more of a predictor of cardiovascular disease than traditional risk factors. Having gum disease can increase your risk of having a heart attack by nearly 30%
What is gum disease and how do you get it?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. It builds up on your teeth, especially between the teeth and along the gum line. You can feel it on your teeth when they feel rough and fuzzy when they need brushing. The bacteria in plaque produces acids that eat away at teeth, causing dental caries. If the plaque is not removed it can cause gum inflammation known as gingivitis. In addition, when plaque isn’t promptly removed from your teeth, it hardens into tartar that adheres to your teeth too tightly to be removed by brushing and flossing, it will require a dental professional.
When gingivitis is not treated it can turn into gum disease, a disease that inflames both the hard and soft tissue that supports your teeth. The gums can pull back from the roots of the teeth leaving pockets that can become infected. Ultimately the infection attacks the tissue and bones that hold the teeth in place, resulting in loose teeth that will eventually fall out.
Before this happens, an Arrowhead dentist can intervene. Even if your gums are swollen, if the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets and no irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred, early gum disease can be treated by scaling and planing the tooth and root surface. Scaling scrapes away plaque while planing smooths the surface of the tooth root, making it harder for bacteria to adhere. The procedure is usually done under a local anesthetic, unless the patient is overly anxious.
How does gum disease affect my heart?
The gums are very vascular. When the bacteria associated with gum disease makes its way below the gum line, it sends bacteria into the bloodstream. These bacteria travel throughout your bloodstream creating inflammation in the body that can destroy the tissue and bones in the mouth. On top of that, your body reacts to these bacteria in your bloodstream with inflammation, which is your body’s first response to an infection. This inflammation seems to worsen many chronic conditions.
Besides heart disease, systemic inflammation is known to contribute to:
Studies have shown that gum disease has also been associated with strokes. Bacterial infections may cause changes in body chemistry that predispose one to blood clots. Like heart attacks, strokes are associated with vascular inflammation.
A pregnant woman with gum disease is over three times more likely to experience complications.
Gum disease has been found to contribute to diabetes. If you have both diabetes and gum disease, your chances of a fatal complication can increase by 500%.
Studies suggest a strong link between gum disease and pancreatic cancer, which is one of the most deadly cancers.
Minimizing your risk
Watch for signs of gum disease, such as inflamed or bleeding gums and inform your dentist in Arrowhead as soon as possible if you notice any. Stay on schedule for your dental exams, x-rays and cleanings.
The reason it’s so important to brush your teeth twice daily is that plaque doesn’t begin to form for several hours after eating. Floss each day to prevent plaque formation between teeth. Do not use any tobacco products as they are known to contribute to gum disease as well as cancer.
Being faithful to do all these things can prevent and possibly reverse the earliest form of gum disease and prevention is always the best option.
Poor oral health can show as yellow, plaque covered, or decaying teeth and red swollen gums that bleed easily. Not a pretty picture. The good news is that proper dental care may be able to restore your smile and possibly prevent physical illness.
Why not visit Aesthetic Dentistry of Arrowhead for a complete dental exam? Routine dental visits and cleanings are extremely important in maintaining good oral health. Having your teeth cleaned professionally can remove plaque before it hardens. In addition, professional cleaning is the only way to remove tartar. Once plaque has hardened into tartar no amount of brushing and flossing can help. If you don’t have plaque removed, you may be on your way to gum disease. One more benefit of routine dental exams is that if your dentist does find a cavity, the earlier it’s found it the easier and less costly it will be to repair. Dr. Ceyhan will be glad to instruct you in proper brushing and flossing techniques since both professional cleaning and good dental hygiene at home combine to keep your smile healthy. Contact us today!
17100 N 67th Ave, Suite 500
Glendale, Arizona 85308
Phone: (623) 979-1515
Fax: (623) 878-1811
Office Hours: Monday-Friday: 8am-5pm