It is common knowledge that severe gum disease can have devastating consequences for a person’s oral health. It can lead to gum recession, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. However, many people may not realize that the damage gum disease causes can reach far beyond the mouth. Let’s discuss how this condition could affect cardiovascular health and what you can do to protect both your smile and your heart.
Gum Disease and Heart Health: A Strong Correlation
In recent years, various studies have established time and again that there is a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. For example, one study found that people with gum disease have a two to three times greater risk of experiencing a serious cardiovascular event (such as a heart attack or stroke) than individuals with healthy gums. A separate study noted that gum disease can increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 50 percent.
Does Gum Disease Actually Cause Heart Problems?
Given the above information, it is clear that there is a connection between heart disease and gum disease. However, the question remains — does the gum disease actually cause the heart disease, or are two conditions caused by common factors (such as smoking)? More research is necessary to clearly answer that question.
However, there is a strong possibility that gum disease can have a direct effect on heart health. That is because the bacteria in gum disease can invade the bloodstream and stimulate an inflammatory response throughout the body. Acute inflammation, such as what occurs after you injure yourself, is a natural and even helpful bodily function. Chronic inflammation, such as that caused by gum disease, is much more harmful. It can even contribute to atherosclerosis, a condition wherein fatty deposits cling to the artery walls. Atherosclerosis is a major risk factor for both heart attack and stroke. Oral bacteria have even been discovered in the fatty deposits associated with atherosclerosis.
Protect Your Gums, Protect Your Heart
The link between heart disease and gum disease should provide a powerful motivation for you to take good care of your gums. Here are a few tips to help you protect your smile and your heart:
- Do not smoke. Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for both your gums and your heart. If you are struggling to quit, ask your general physician for advice on how to kick the habit.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Routine dental visits can do much to prevent gum disease. If your dentist detects early signs of gum problems, they can treat it before it becomes serious.
- Eat a healthy diet. Many foods, such as leafy greens and green tea, are good for both your gums and your cardiovascular system.
- Maintain a clean mouth. Brushing and flossing are an essential part of preventing gum disease.
Are your gums healthy? Protecting this precious pink tissue could save both your smile and your heart!
About the Author
Dr. Erick Anderson is a skilled general dentist who was born and raised in the Colorado Springs community. He provides both preventive care to stop the formation of gum disease and periodontal therapy to help reverse gum disease. If you would like to learn more about how Dr. Anderson can help you achieve healthy gums (and perhaps protect your heart), contact our team today at 719-593-0988.