You’ve always been told that you need to have good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums healthy. In addition to preventing gum disease, having good brushing and flossing habits could have a relationship with the health of your heart. Read on to learn about how gum health could indicate the likelihood of experiencing cardiovascular problems in the future.
What Is the Correlation Between Gum Disease and Heart Health?
People who have gum disease are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular problem. Even though many patients who have gum disease have healthy hearts, and plenty of people with cardiovascular problems have healthy gums, it appears that there could be some correlation between the two.
The thing that gum disease and an unhealthy heart have in common is inflammation. Prolonged inflammation can lead to atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries. This condition makes blood flow to the heart difficult and increases the possibility of having a heart attack or stroke.
What Are the Types of Gum Disease?
There are two different diseases that directly affect the gums:
Gingivitis: This type of gum disease causes tender, red, and painful gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease and is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Factors that may contribute are:
- Substance abuse
- Systematic diseases
Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible through good oral care and professional treatment.
Periodontitis: This is a more serious type of gum disease that leads to infected pockets of bacteria filled pus. This is the type that increases the worry for heart disease. It allows bacteria to spread below the gums and could lead to the destruction of the jawbone or needing to have teeth surgically removed. Like gingivitis, this condition is usually the result of poor oral hygiene but can also be caused by these factors:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Inadequate nutrition
- Conditions that cause decreased immunity
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
If you experience any of these signs, there is a possibility that you could have gum disease:
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Bad breath
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pus between teeth and gums
- Buildup of hard, brown deposits along the gum line
- Loose teeth
Even though it is not proven that gum disease and heart health are directly related, the correlation is appearing to be more and more likely by medical professionals throughout the years. By practicing preventive dentistry, including frequent brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings, you can reduce your risk for gum disease, as well as improving the likelihood of having a healthy heart.
About the Author
Dr. Jon Davidson opened the doors to Dental Dynamics in Skokie, IL in 2002 but has been practicing since 1995. Dr. Davidson and his team include a periodontist, an oral surgeon, and an endodontist, so patients can get everything they need at one convenient location. He highlights the importance of preventive dentistry to reduce the chances of developing gum disease. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (847) 329-9801.