Many studies have shown that oral health is vital for your overall health. However, people are not as vigilant about their oral health as they are about their overall physiological health. For instance, almost half of UK adults suffer from some level of irreversible periodontitis and it often goes undiagnosed. People often avoid going to a dentist because perhaps their teeth feel fine.
One area that the dentists and the researchers are focused on is the connection between gum disease and heart disease. Gum disease or periodontal disease generally refers to inflammation of the gums, followed by the breaking down of gums, teeth, and bone tissues that support them. According to recent studies, gum disease in a moderate or severe stage can put you at a greater risk for cardiac disease than someone with healthy gums. Research has also shown that oral health can provide warning signs for several diseases, including cardiac ones.
What Is The Connection?
It must be noted that people with heart disease can have healthy gums and not everyone with gum disease will suffer from heart issues. But poor gum health can be an independent risk factor for cardiac issues. As mentioned, periodontal disease often leads to inflammation. While inflammation is our body’s natural defense mechanism that fosters healing over the short term, long-term or chronic inflammation can be a major contributor to health problems such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).
Let us understand this in a bit more detail. The oral bacteria found in tooth plaque and tartar are the main culprit behind gum disease. These bacteria can get into the bloodstream through the gum tissues and then into the heart valves and heart. These bacteria can then lead to inflammation throughout the body putting one at high risk of heart attack and stroke. The bacteria may also cause infection in the bloodstream which could lead to a heart attack as well.
Who Is At Risk?
Those with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis and advanced-stage periodontal diseases are at the highest risk of heart ailments. This is caused by poor oral health, especially if it remains undiagnosed. It is possible that the gum inflammation is not that obvious but improper oral hygiene and accumulated plaque can put you at risk of gum disease. This may further lead to inflammation in the blood vessels and can increase the risk of heart ailments.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
You might be suffering from gum disease if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Pus or other signs of infection around the gums or the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Gum recession
- Loose teeth
- Teeth sensitivity
You can prevent gum disease by having regular dental checkups. It is recommended to visit the dentist’s office twice a year for regular checkups. Maintaining adequate dental hygiene by brushing your teeth twice and flossing once a day also plays a vital role. Using an antimicrobial mouthwash also helps.
How to Reduce the Risk
In case you are already suffering from gum disease, taking certain precautions can help you minimise the risk of heart disease.
- Brush twice a day: It is a part of the ideal oral hygiene routine. You can use fluoride toothpaste to make your teeth less susceptible to decay.
- Floss at least once a day: Flossing helps you remove plaque from that area of your teeth that the toothbrush couldn’t reach.
- Have regular dental cleanings: If the plaque in your mouth has developed into tartar, professional dental cleaning is the only way to remove it. It also allows your dentist to look for symptoms of any oral health issues.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking and gum disease go hand in hand. Moreover, it makes it tougher to fight infections by weakening the immune system.
All in all, it all boils down to being as vigilant about your oral health as you are about your overall physiological health. You should ensure that you don’t miss your regular bi-annual appointment with your dentist. These regular checkups help in the early diagnosis of oral ailments before they have a chance to turn into something serious. Since the connection between oral health and cardiac health is now pretty evident, it becomes all the more important to maintain optimal oral hygiene.
In summary, keeping your smile healthy will help you keep your heart healthy.
If you have any more questions related to gum disease, we at Complete Smiles will be more than happy to attend to your queries. With a mission to provide the best dental services possible, we strive to provide high-quality and caring dentistry. We offer a wide range of treatments under different dental faculties such as General Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Implants, and Invisalign treatment among others.
We are among the most trusted dental practices Harrow that provide you with one of the most comfortable and relaxed dental experiences. We believe in changing with time and thus employ the most advanced dental technology to treat our patients.
Book an appointment online or call us at 020 4541 1150.