Did you know 1 person every 34 seconds dies from cardiovascular issues? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 805,000 Americans suffer from a heart attack each year, making it the leading cause of death in the U.S. Many factors increase your risk of heart disease, like smoking, an unhealthy diet, or genetics, but your gum health can also play a role. Believe it or not, there’s evidence supporting a close connection between gum and heart health. Here’s how committing to your gums can keep your heart healthy.
What is Gum Disease?
Cavities aren’t the only culprits of tooth loss. Gum (periodontal) disease is also a leading cause of missing teeth. The preventable infection is caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar from poor oral hygiene habits. Gingivitis, the earliest stage of the infection, causes red, swollen, and bleeding gums. If caught early, it’s easy to treat without causing long-term harm to your oral or general health.
It can progress to advanced periodontitis with no treatment, which can destroy the supporting structures of your teeth, ultimately leading to tooth loss. However, bacteria from gum disease can also enter your bloodstream, wreaking havoc on your health as it circulates throughout your body.
Researchers have found many links between gum disease and various health issues, like heart disease. In fact, people with periodontal disease are 2-3 times more likely to have heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events.
Gum Health and Heart Disease
As bacteria from the infection circulates through the body’s blood vessels, it causes an inflammatory response. Inflammation within the blood vessels increases the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes, which is even more likely for patients with high cholesterol.
Oral bacteria have also been found in fatty deposits that can lead to plaque in the arteries, called atherosclerosis. If the deposits break off, it can cause a stroke or heart attack. Gum disease can also cause life-threatening complications by infecting the heart valves.
Invest in Healthy Gums
It’s never too late to recommit to a healthy smile. Improving your oral hygiene is a simple way to keep your gums healthy to keep cardiovascular disease at bay. You can safeguard your smile from gum disease by brushing, flossing, and using daily mouthwash. Besides caring for your teeth and gums at home, visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. Don’t wait for your next semi-annual visit if you develop any signs of gingivitis, like swollen, inflamed, or bleeding gums. Your dentist will stop the infection in its tracks to protect your oral and heart health.
About Dr. Steven Bizzell
Dr. Bizzell earned his dental degree at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and continued his education for 3 years to specialize in periodontics. He is a member of the American Board of Periodontology and many other professional organizations. If you have signs of gum disease, request an appointment through our website or call (347) 537-6172.