It's increasingly common to hear that oral health is essential for your overall health. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in adults and prevention is key. Did you know that your gums health has a direct correlation to your heart's health?
How does oral health affect the heart? Research has shown that there are two specific links between oral health and heart disease. First, studies show that if you have gum disease in a moderate or advanced stage, you're at greater risk for heart disease than someone with healthy gums. Second, your oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for a range of diseases and conditions, including those in the heart.
Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria from your mouth to the rest of your body through the blood stream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. This can result in endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart (according to Mayo Clinic). Other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria ( according to the American Heart Association).
Who Is at Risk?
Patients with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease have the highest risk for heart disease caused by poor oral health, particularly if it remains undiagnosed and untreated.The bacteria that are associated with gum infection are in the mouth and can enter the blood stream , where they attach to the blood vessels and increase your risk to cardiovascular disease and heart stroke.
With more than 80 percent of Americans having undiagnosed chronic periodontal or gum disease, it is essential to see your dentist every 6months for early detection of gum disease.
Symptoms of early gum disease
According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), you may have gum disease, in its early stages, if:
your gums are red, swollen and sore to the touch.
your gums bleed when you eat, brush or floss.
you see pus.
your gums look as if they are "pulling away" from the teeth.
you frequently have bad breath or notice a bad taste in your mouth.
your teeth are loose, or feel as if they are moving away from the other teeth.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best preventative tool for diagnosing and preventing gum disease. The Canadian Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush, floss daily and visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings.
Be sure to take care care of your oral health. If you think you show signs of gum disease, don’t delay in visiting the dentist! You might just save yourself some heartache.