December 17, 2017
The human body is a marvelous creation, full of interdependent systems that come together to help you function well and enjoy all that life has to offer. Unfortunately, the interconnectivity of our bodies can also cause us problems. What seems like a minor issue in one part can have far-reaching and devastating consequences. For example, did you know that gum disease can actually impact your heart health? Why is this the case, and how can you take better care of your gums to protect your precious ticker?
Gum Disease and Cardiovascular Conditions
Cardiovascular disease claims more lives in the United States each year than anything else, including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and accidents. There are many risk factors that can place your heart in harm’s way, but one that many people do not often think about is poor oral health. In fact, people with periodontal (gum) disease are about twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease as people with healthy mouths.
It’s also worth noting that gum health is an independent risk factor for heart problems. That means that even if you’re doing everything else right — eating well, not smoking, and exercising — you might still be in hot water if your gums aren’t in good shape. One study found that gum health is an even greater risk factor for heart disease than high cholesterol.
Why the Connection?
You might wonder what in the world your gums have to do with your heart. They aren’t exactly next-door neighbors, after all. The answer may have to do with the bacteria that causes gum disease. They can sneak into your body through your gums and travel throughout the rest of your body.
The bacteria may cause an inflammatory response in your body, causing swelling that in turn leads to the formation of plaque in your arteries. This plaque can narrow your blood vessels, making it more difficult for your heart to get blood and oxygen to the rest of your body. It might also break away from the walls of your arteries and cause blockages, leading to heart attack or stroke.
What Can You Do About It?
If you’ve noticed symptoms of gum disease in your mouth, such as bleeding or tender gums or persistent bad breath, we recommend that you visit a dentist as soon as possible. A professional can design a treatment program that will get your oral health back on track. For example, you might need a procedure known as scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning process that gets rid of bacteria and makes it more difficult for the nasty stuff to stick to your tooth roots underneath your gums.
If your gum disease is already advanced, you might need more intensive treatment, such as surgery, from a periodontal specialist.
How are your gums doing? Take care of them, and your heart will take care of you!
About the Dentist
Dr. Tom Pastor is your friendly dentist in Wilton. He provides general dentistry services as well as periodontal treatments to keep your entire mouth in great shape. If you’re concerned about the state of your gums, please contact our office at 207-645-9522.
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