February is American Heart Health Month, but did you know that your heart health is linked to your oral health? Gum disease is a serious dental condition that can increase your chances of heart disease! If left untreated, gingivitis can then turn into periodontal disease. While those with periodontal disease must be extra careful, shockingly, people with minor gum disease still have an increased chance of developing heart disease too!
How does gum disease affect your heart health?
It starts with bacteria. Oral bacteria from gum disease can travel down to your heart via the bloodstream. As the bacteria is in your bloodstream, it attaches to fatty plaques and causes blockage. This then causes inflammation in your blood vessels and lowers blood flow. Conditions that can be caused by gum disease bacteria include:
- Endocarditis: When the lining of the heart becomes inflamed.
- Atherosclerosis: When plaque causes narrow and clogged arteries.
- C-reactive protein: A rise in this protein increases when there is inflation in the body.
If you think you have gum disease, it is important to seek our help right away! One of the biggest markers of gum disease is red, inflamed gums. Another sign of gum disease is bleeding gums when brushing your teeth or eating. Other symptoms include bad breath, loose teeth, and receding gums.
The first step to preventing gum disease is to visit us twice a year for regular cleanings. During your cleanings, our dental experts will make sure that your teeth are free from harmful bacteria and plaque build-up. If you have a more serious case of gum disease, bone grafts or tissue grafts may be needed.
Furthermore, it is always important to maintain your oral health at home. Caring for your teeth doesn’t stop after visiting us. Please make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and to use a mouthwash to rid of bacteria and strengthen your teeth. If you have any questions about dental products, our dentists are happy to help!
In addition to taking care of your oral health, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising daily will help keep your heart strong! At Premier Dental Associates, your health matters to us!