You probably don’t think about flossing when considering the best ways to keep your heart healthy. However, a growing body of research is beginning to suggest that we should! As experts continue to study the well-known connection between oral and overall health, they are discovering an undeniable connection between gum disease and heart health. Read on as your Marlton dentist explains this important relationship and what you can do to keep your smile and your heart healthy.
What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
A buildup of dental plaque in your mouth can lead to much more than just cavities. The bacteria plaque contains can attack your gum tissue, which can lead to an infection known as periodontal (gum) disease. Gingivitis, the earliest stage of this oral health condition, is characterized by inflamed, tender, and easily bleeding gums. While gingivitis can be reversed, the advanced stage of gum disease (periodontitis) can lead to:
- Permanent gum recession.
- Painful, loose, and infected teeth.
- Jawbone damage and tooth loss.
How Are Gum Disease & Heart Health Connected?
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the US, but experts believe that its harmful effects don’t stop at your smile. This oral health issue that impacts more than half of the American population has been linked to systemic problems like diabetes, respiratory infections, birth complications, memory loss, and many more. Recently, its connection to heart disease has been of particular interest to health experts. A variety of recent studies have found that the presence of gum disease can increase a patient’s cardiovascular care costs by 10-40% and their risk of heart disease by 20%.
This link is widely seen as a result of the bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease. If the harmful bacteria attacking the gum tissue escapes into the bloodstream, it may be able to travel to the heart and infect the inner linings of its chambers and valves. Additionally, a prolonged immune response to gum disease could cause inflammation to spread throughout the body, which could narrow or clog the arteries.
How Can I Keep My Gums & Heart Healthy?
There is still much more to learn about the relationship between gum disease and heart health, but health and dental experts agree that there is an undeniable link. To keep yourself healthy, they suggest:
- Brushing your teeth for a full two minutes twice a day.
- Flossing all your teeth daily and regularly using mouthwash.
- Cutting back on sugary foods that fuel harmful bacteria.
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to hinder plaque buildup.
- Seeing your dentist twice a year for your routine dental checkup.
Not only is great oral hygiene important for maintaining your beautiful smile, but it plays a key role in your overall wellbeing too. Remember, when you take care of your teeth and gums, your whole body will thank you!
About the Author
Dr. Joseph Sandberg of South Jersey Center for Dental Medicine has been serving the smiles of Marlton, NJ and the surrounding South Jersey communities for over 30 years. He utilizes an array of advanced dental technology to comfortably and efficiently treat a wide variety of oral health issues. However, he always aims to help his patients stop any problems from starting in the first place with excellent preventive care. He encourages his patients to get their routine dental checkups twice a year to achieve a beautiful, healthy, and long-lasting smile. If you are concerned about your gum health, don’t hesitate to contact him via his website or at (856) 596-4333.