Many people assume that oral health and health related to other areas of the body are largely disconnected, but this is a common misconception. For example, heart health is actually one of the most well-studied areas when it comes to its connection with the health of your gum tissue. Dentists often note that when problems are present in the mouth, the likelihood that something else is also wrong is higher. If you want to reduce your risk for heart-related problems, learn why a dentist says you should give your current oral health a look.
Gum Disease is Not Just About Bad Breath or Bleeding Gums
When you have gum disease, large amounts of bacteria are present in your mouth, which is what causes symptoms like bad breath. Even if you brush and floss and you still have bad breath, it’s likely that more advanced levels of gum disease have started to develop. Furthermore, when your gums start bleeding while practicing oral care and they don’t stop despite improving your care, you should start thinking about seeing a dentist.
However, these are not the only reasons why you should address gum disease. Gum disease occurs because the gum tissue has become inflamed, and inflammation within the body, no matter where it occurs, is never a good thing. It means the body’s immune system is responding to entities that can damage it, which in this case is a gum infection. This response every once in a while is normal, but never when it’s chronic. If you don’t address your chronic inflammation (which in this case is gum disease), it can increase your risk for many underlying conditions, including heart disease.
The Common Link Between Gum and Heart Health? Bacteria.
Outside of inflammation, one of the most common links between heart disease and gum disease is bacteria. When the gums become infected, the barrier between the mouth and the rest of the body breaks down. This allows bacteria that would otherwise be exclusive to the mouth to travel throughout the bloodstream. In the end, this means the bacteria can reach any other area of the body, including the heart. If bacteria from the mouth does reach the heart, it can attach itself to any damaged areas and trigger inflammation. One of the most common conditions related to this is endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Oral bacteria has also been linked to conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
How You can Reduce Your Risk for Gum Disease
Overall, the best ways to reduce your risk for heart-related complications caused by gum disease are relatively simple. They include:
- Brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Making sure to brush for at least two minutes at a time.
- Flossing at least once a day.
- Visiting the dentist once every six months for an exam and cleaning.
- Maintaining a balanced diet containing fruits and vegetables.
If you’re suffering from gum disease symptoms, don’t assume that it will get better on its own. Call a dentist today and schedule an appointment with them to get the treatment you need and improve your overall health along the way!
About the Author
Dr. Benjamin Hornstein takes whole-body wellness just as seriously as he does oral health, so you can expect treatments from him that take this into account every time you visit. His exceptional attention to detail and dedication for long-term care is sure to give you confidence in your next gum therapy treatment, whether it’s through scaling, root planing, antibiotics or soft tissue laser therapy. To learn more about his practice, you can contact him through his website.