It seems that there is always new research connecting poor oral health with overall health problems. Keeping your teeth clean and healthy is important for your dental and overall health, but gum health is equally –– if not more –– important. That’s because gum disease has been linked to some scary non-dental medical issues like diabetes, strokes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. For years, research has shown a connection between gum disease and heart disease. Read on to learn about the heart disease/gum disease connection, and how you can prevent and treat gum disease.
Gum Disease and Heart Disease Conditions
If the bones and tissue supporting the teeth begin to erode, food debris and harmful bacteria can enter the bloodstream, causing severe health problems. That’s one of the reasons why the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you visit the dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and a checkup, allowing for dental issues to be caught and treated before they can damage your health.
Periodontal disease (an advanced case of gum disease) can harm your overall health. If left untreated for long enough, gum disease can also increase the risk of heart disease and strokes. Additionally, research shows that people with gum disease are more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.
In fact, some studies show that the type of bacteria in the mouth that causes gum disease can move into the bloodstream. This process elevates a C-reactive protein, a catalyst for inflammation in blood vessels that leads to an increase of heart disease.
Additionally, a study by Harvard Medical School suggests that you may be at a two to three times greater risk of having a heart attack or another serious cardiovascular problem if you have gum disease. However, the researchers state that it’s important to note that there are plenty of people who have healthy gums and heart disease. There are also people who have gum disease and no heart issues.
Make sure to provide your dentist with your complete medical history and a list of prescription medications you are currently taking. If you have an existing heart condition, please let your dentist know, as he or she may need to consult with your physician before performing a dental procedure.
Treatment for Gingivitis
Gum disease, otherwise known as gingivitis, is a fairly common condition. If caught early enough, treatment for gum disease can be as simple as implementing a more strict brushing and flossing routine. However, letting gingivitis go untreated could invite the development of periodontitis, which can eventually lead to tooth and even bone loss.
Gum disease treatments range from non-invasive to invasive. Your dentist may start by recommending more frequent dental cleanings at his or her office. As the disease advances, so do the treatment options. Your dentist might recommend a “deep cleaning” process called scaling and root planing. Unfortunately, surgery and bone grafts might be necessary to treat advanced cases of periodontal disease.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis, please contact your general dentist for a checkup and a cleaning. Catching gum disease early is the best way to reverse the damage done to your teeth and gums.
Preventing Gum Disease
Remember that prevention is every bit as important as treatment. Keeping up with good dental hygiene habits –– like brushing and flossing twice per day –– and seeing your general dentist for regular cleanings and checkups is key.
While no study has been able to conclusively link gum disease to cancer, it’s still a good idea to avoid gum disease if you can. Luckily, gingivitis and gum disease can be prevented with good oral health. Below are a few ways to make sure you keep your gum tissue healthy:
- Brush your teeth and gums at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss your teeth at least once each day
- Regularly rinse your mouth with ADA approved mouthwash
- Visit your regular dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and exam
Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we believe your dental health is just as important as your overall health. That’s why our team of specialized doctors does every they can to restore your smile and relieve your pain. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation and learn how we can help give you a healthy, beautiful smile!