You’re pretty conscious about your health. Your family has a history of heart disease, and you’re doing your best to avoid or at least minimize its effect on you. Well, while you’re eating right and exercising regularly, don’t forget about your mouth! Your gum health could play a part in your cardiovascular health in the long term. In this post, you’ll learn about this relationship and what you can do to take care of your gums.
What is gum disease?
Simply put, gum disease is a chronic inflammatory infection in the gums, but that doesn’t mean it only impacts that part of your mouth. It starts out seemingly small, with plaque buildup around the gum line. The bacteria in plaque produce acids, irritating the gums and causing them to become red and swollen and bleed easily when you brush or floss. Then the gums pull away from the teeth, exposing the rough roots of the teeth to plaque and bacteria. As the disease progresses, it spreads to the supporting tissue and bone, causing permanent damage and weakening the hold they have on your teeth. Eventually, without intervention, gum disease leads to tooth loss.
What happens in your mouth has a greater influence on your well-being than you may think. Without teeth or proper support for your bite, your ability to chew is severely hampered. As a result, you may not be able to have a nutritious diet, or you could suffer from indigestion. Studies have shown corroborating evidence that those who wear dentures reduce their expected lifespan by 10 years.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease can consist of many different conditions and is the number one cause of death in both women and men in the United States. In many cases, a cardiovascular event, such as heart attack or stroke, occurs when blood flow is restricted or blocked at critical points in the body.
How can gum disease affect your heart health?
At first glance, your oral health and heart health can seem completely unrelated. However, the bacteria causing inflammation in the gums can easily enter your bloodstream and trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body, including the heart and brain. As a result, blood flow through vessels or arteries can become more difficult, potentially setting the stage for a cardiovascular event. In fact, gum disease can increase your risk for a heart attack by almost 50 percent. Although research has not found or proven a direct causal relationship, your gums and heart are undoubtedly linked.
How can I care for my gums?
Although researchers have yet to determine whether preventing gum disease reduces your risk for heart disease, taking care of your gums is a good way to promote your oral and overall health. You can start by implementing the following habits into your life:
- Visiting the dentist twice every year for checkups and cleanings.
- Getting periodontal therapy, if or when needed.
- Brushing twice every day.
- Flossing once every day.
- Drinking more water.
- Consuming less sugar.
- Using an antimicrobial mouthwash daily.
In the end, your gum and heart health both matter and deserve your attention. By making a few extra changes in your lifestyle, you can enjoy healthy gums and possibly a healthier heart. When you take care of your gums, you can continue to eat healthy, fibrous fruits and vegetables and you keep inflammation-causing bacteria out of your system. Your heart and your smile will thank you later!
About the Author
After dental school, Dr. Raj Vekariya earned his certificate in esthetic and comprehensive dentistry. He and his staff at Center One Dental provide a wide range of services, including periodontal therapy to patients in the Canonsburg area. With almost a decade of dental experience under his belt, you can trust your smile in his capable hands. To schedule an appointment with him, you can call (724) 300-3700 or click here.