What's The Connection Between Gum Disease and Your Heart?
HEART DISEASE IS LINKED TO GUM DISEASE
A healthy mouth is more important than just stopping tooth decay and having a great-looking smile — healthy gums means a healthier heart. The AAP (the American Academy of Periodontology) is watching several scientific studies investigating the link between periodontal problems and heart disease. Although periodontal disease doesn't lead to or cause heart disease, there is research to show that the two are connected. Beyond heart disease, periodontal disease is linked to diabetes, strokes, and some cancers. This shows that healthy teeth and gums can positively impact general health. The board-certified team of dental professionals at Eagle Point Dental Care offer treatments for periodontal disease. Read on for more information about the cause and symptoms of periodontal disease, as well as how to treat and prevent gum problems.
Periodontal (gum) disease causes inflammation in the mouth's soft tissue. Gum disease starts when a sticky bacteria (plaque) builds up on your enamel. Plaque is made when starches and sugars combine with the saliva in your mouth. This process is normal and happens all the time. However, the plaque should be removed when you floss, brush, and go to your dentist for bi-annual cleanings. If it's not completely removed, plaque turns into tartar, a harder substance. The tartar and plaque together cause problems like gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease. Signs of gingivitis include inflammed, red gums that bleed after brushing or flossing. If it's not caught and stopped, gingivitis will progress to periodontitis. The second stage of periodontal disease, periodontitis can cause gumline recession, which makes the teeth feel loose. If you don't get treatment, the problem can spread through your mouth and possibly, your entire body if it gets into your blood.
SIGNS OF GUM DISEASE
Periodontal (gum) disease is more common than you might realize. Almost half of American adults have been diagnosed with some degree of gum disease. Since the first symptoms of periodontal disease don't usually cause pain, it's hard for you to identify by yourself. The easiest way to make sure you don't have periodontal disease is to schedule professional cleanings and oral health exams at a dentist in McKinney, TX. It also helps to know the symptoms of gum disease, so you can be proactive and visit your dentist sooner if you're concerned. The first signs of periodontal disease are swollen, red, or tender gums that bleed after you brush or floss. Halitosis (chronic bad breath) is also a sign of a problem and you need to schedule a dental exam. An advanced sign is a visible sore or pus along your gumline. You might also have a brown buildup on your enamel near the gumline. If you think your gumline is changing or your teeth are loose, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible for an oral health exam.
TREATING GUM DISEASE
The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is usually treated with at least one scaling and root planing (SRP) procedure. During a scaling and root planing procedure, your dentist will use a special tool known as a scaler to remove debris from under your gumline. Next, they will plane (smooth) the surface of each tooth to eliminate crevices where debris usually hides. Your dentist may write you a prescription for antibiotics following your scaling and root planing procedure to address any additional bacteria in your mouth. If your gingivitis has advanced to periodontitis, your dentist might need to perform periodontal surgery so they can treat deeper sections of your gums than SRP therapy.
PREVENTING GUM DISEASE
Strong gums and teeth are the basis of a great smile. To avoid dealing with the consequences or symptoms of periodontal disease, there are many ways to decrease your risk:
- GO TO YOUR DENTIST
Visit your dentist two times a year for professional cleanings and an oral health exam. Annual exams help your dentist to look for problems like periodontal disease early so it's simpler to fix. Dental cleanings address tartar and plaque, which you might have trouble reaching on your own. Bi-annual appointments with an experienced dentist can help you avoid periodontal disease while also reducing your chance of developing heart disease with oral health exams and cleanings. If you have dental anxieties or fears that stop you from going to your appointments, our practice in McKinney, TX offers several types of sedation to make you feel relaxed and calm so you don't avoid these critical appointments.
- WATCH YOUR LIFESTYLE AND HABITS
If you eat a healthy diet that limits sugary and processed foods, you can stop the formation of tartar and plaque on your enamel, which reduces your risk of developing periodontal disease. Managing stress and following a regular exercise routine may also decrease your chance of developing gum disease and other oral health problems.
- ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAM
Schedule an exam every year with your doctor to assess your general health. Your physician will use blood tests and other diagnostics to determine if you are at risk or have any health issues. When they get your results, your physician may suggest ways to improve your general health, which can decrease your chance of developing gum disease. Some examples are lowering your cholesterol, getting to or staying at a healthy weight, and addressing any health issues will decrease your chances of developing periodontal disease.
- QUIT SMOKING
Anyone who uses any form of tobacco (smoking cigarettes or cigars, vaping, or chewing) are far more likely to have dental problems, which is why quitting immediately can reduce your risk of getting gum disease as well as mouth cancer. For help, ask your doctor about tobacco cessation aids, like nicotine patches, gum, as well as medication.
HEALTHY GUMS = HEALTHY HEART
If you want to protect your heart, start by improving your dental health. Choose a dentist you like and schedule appointments at least two times every year to reduce your risk of periodontal disease and improve your oral health. Our practice in McKinney, TX has experienced, board-certified professionals who focus on diagnosing and reversing all stages of periodontal disease. Prevent gum disease by getting a dental examination plus following an oral care routine at home to make sure you have an attractive smile.
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.