Periodontal Disease and Heart Health: The Surprising Link
Everyone knows good dental hygiene is important for your teeth, but do you have any idea how far the benefits go? A healthy mouth is a sign that all is as it should be in your body, but the impacts reach beyond a gleaming smile- it might also keep your heart healthier.
As it turns out, research has found that poor mouth health can double your likelihood of suffering heart problems like strokes, heart attacks and more. In fact, mouth problems like periodontal disease may put you at greater risk of heart problems than high cholesterol levels.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Commonly called gum disease, periodontal disease is caused by sticky plaque buildups around and between your teeth. There are numerous reasons why gum disease develops, but the leading cause is failing to brush and floss your teeth as much as you should. This bacterium may seem insignificant, but it has some big impacts on your body. Ranging from simple gum inflammation to damaging diseases that compromise your jaw, periodontal disease brings a host of side effects like losing teeth as it progresses.
Gum Health and Heart Disease: What’s the Connection?
Poor mouth health is bad news, but what does that have to do with the state of your heart? To put it simply, gum disease causes swelling and inflammation throughout your body. Though inflammation is your body’s natural response to infection, it can create some unintended consequences for the health of your heart.
Gums are naturally full of blood vessels, and your mouth is home to vast amounts of bacteria. Normal chewing and brushing is all it takes for these germs to make it into your bloodstream, as small sores in your mouth makes it simple for them to spread throughout your body. Studies have found that the bacteria in periodontal disease, especially Streptococcus sanguis, can quickly spread into your heart, putting you at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Protect Yourself: What You Can Do
While it’s unclear whether periodontal disease is causing heart problems or is simply a symptom of them, there’s no denying the research findings that the two are connected. For this reason, it’s a smart idea to take your mouth health seriously. This means keeping your mouth in top shape by brushing and flossing regularly, eating a healthy diet and not smoking.
It’s also important to understand what the symptoms of gum disease look like. If you have red, swollen gums, consistent bleeding after flossing or eating hard food, pus between your gums or sores in your mouth, the chance is good you may have gum disease.
While surgical procedures are available that can help reverse the damage of periodontal disease, your best chance of staying healthy is practicing good oral hygiene to prevent the disease from taking root in the first place.
The Bottom Line: Stay Connected with Your Dentists
The best way to ensure your mouth stays healthy is to seek the help of a professional like your dentist. Getting regular dental checkups, including dental X-rays, teeth cleanings and mouth treatments is the best way to ensure that unsightly plaque doesn’t build up to the point where it’s hurting your heart.
Island Tower Dentistry has one of the most talented and experienced team of dentists and dental assistants in Marco Island, and we will work together to keep your risk of developing gum disease low. Call us today at 239-394-1004 to make an appointment!