As you age you probably have some basic health concerns: are you staying active enough? Is your diet the best for your health? How about heart disease – are you at risk? We generally consider fitness and diet to be the two major factors in staying healthy but what about other risk factors? Did you know your oral health could be directly connected to your heart disease risk?
At Really Smile Dental we’ve been treating gum disease for years and the health risks is causes are surprising! At the top of this list is heart disease: a potentially fatal side effect of poor oral health!
What Is Gum Disease?
You’re probably familiar with dental cavities: the bacteria in your mouth produces acids that eat away at your teeth causing decay. Gum disease is caused by that same bacteria but through a slightly different process. Bacteria is always looking for a safe spot to settle and the area below your gum lines is definitely one of those safe spots!
Once bacteria gets below your gum line it will continue to produce acids and irritate your gums, causing them to become red and inflamed. They can also start pulling away from your teeth, creating pockets that trap more and more bacteria and debris. This just causes the problem to get worse, and eventually you could be facing receding gums, loosening teeth, and even complete tooth loss!
Gum Disease And Your Health
There are several diseases that have been linked to gum disease and all of them are pretty serious! The problem stems from one primary factor: oral bacteria in infected gums making its way into your bloodstream. There are several conditions that are connected to oral bacteria in your blood – in fact there’s a 50 percent increase in heart disease risk for patients with gum disease!
The reasons why gum disease and heart disease are linked is complicated and something that researchers are still delving in to. There are links between gum disease inflammation and general inflammation in the veins and body, as well as the bacteria in the bloodstream that can lead to infection elsewhere.
One of the major concerns of bacteria in the bloodstream is endocarditis. This condition involves bacteria in the heart, which can cause infections, heart attacks, and risk of death! For most people with healthy immune systems this isn’t a problem. If you’re getting older or are taking medication that might damage your immune system gum disease can definitely increase your risks in this area!
Heart disease risks increase for the same reasons. A correlation between hardening of the arteries and oral bacteria in the bloodstream has been found – artery hardening is one of the major causes of heart attacks! When your arteries harden it’s because there have been deposits of fat and other material on the inside of your veins. This restricts blood flow and can not just lead to heart attack but to stroke as well!
Preventing These Conditions
There are a lot of things you can do to prevent gum disease and eventual heart attack or stroke. The best way is to ensure you’re practicing good oral hygiene habits at home! If you’re not brushing twice a day and flossing in the evening you’re increasing your risk! You also need to be sure you’re brushing properly – not too hard and with a soft bristled brush. Always be sure to get every single tooth and brush down from the gum line to the crown.
That isn’t all you can do to prevent and treat gum disease. You also need to be sure you’re seeing us at our Carmel dentist office for exams and cleanings every six months! By seeing us for regular cleanings you’re setting yourself up for future success! We can identify and treat the signs of gum disease far before they become serious and endanger your health!
If you want to find out more about how dentistry can keep your heart healthy don’t hesitate to call us! You can reach Really Smile Dentistry by calling us at 317-451-4050! If you want to schedule an appointment you can do so by phone or by filling out our online appointment request form. We look forward to seeing you soon!