March 18, 2019
Did you know that your mouth is considered the window to the body? It makes sense. After all, the food and water you eat enter your system and eventually your bloodstream because of your mouth. Every organ depends on that blood, especially your heart. But there is an even more important link between your mouth and your heart. An infection in your mouth—specifically gum disease—could have an impact on your heart health. Keep reading to find out more about how these conditions are related.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease affects nearly half of American adults over the age of 30, and it can have serious consequences. As a chronic inflammatory condition, gum disease starts out small in the gums. When plaque is allowed to buildup, particularly near the gum line, the bacteria in it produce acids that irritate the gums. They become red and swollen as a result. Eventually, the gums pull away from the teeth, creating gaps and pockets for plaque to accumulate deeper on the teeth’s roots. The infection then can spread to teeth’s supporting tissue and bone, often causing permanent damage and weakening teeth’s stability. Ultimately, untreated gum disease leads to tooth loss.
What is heart disease?
As the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, heart disease causes one in every four deaths. It is a general term for many conditions relating to the heart, including cardiovascular disease, which refers to conditions in which important blood vessels are narrowed or blocked. When blood flow is blocked or slowed down enough, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
How are gum disease and heart disease related?
Although studies have not shown a clear, direct cause/effect link between the two, research has shown a strong association. Patients with both gum and heart diseases tend to have significantly higher cardiovascular care costs than those with heart disease alone. Although some research indicates that they may be co-existing diseases with the same risk factors, such as smoking, studies have shown that gum disease can raise your risk of heart disease by up to 20 percent.
How can a disease in the gums affect your heart?
It may seem strange that a condition in your mouth could influence your heart health, but it can. Gum disease is all about inflammation. When your gums become inflamed, they can easily bleed, allowing the bacteria in the mouth to enter your bloodstream. If your blood vessels are narrow already, this inflammation can exacerbate the problem and make blood flow even more difficult.
Although it is not clear whether taking better care of your mouth can definitively improve your heart health, it may be yet another reason to take healthy oral habits more seriously. Luckily, gum disease is treatable and preventable when you work with your dentist in Grand Island. It certainly doesn’t hurt to take the necessary steps to address gum disease and give your body the best possible chances of overcoming the ill and sometimes deadly effects of heart disease.
About the Practice
At Stec Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, three talented and experienced dentists offer comprehensive dental care, including gum disease therapy, to patients in the Grand Island area. They and their staff use the most updated technology, including DIAGNOdent laser cavity detection and intraoral cameras, to make patients true partners in their oral health. To make an appointment with them, you can call (308) 382-4440 or click here.
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