Did you know that nearly half of American adults over the age of 30 have an advanced form of gum disease? Yes, it’s very common, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t worry about it. And don’t be fooled by the name—gum disease in Roswell can affect more than just your mouth. It can also impact your overall health, specifically your heart. Keep reading to learn more about how gum disease and heart disease can be related.
What is gum disease?
Also called periodontal disease, gum disease is a chronic inflammatory condition in the gums. Caused by the bacteria in plaque, the white, sticky substance in your mouth, gum disease starts out small. These bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gums, causing them to become red and swollen. Over time, the toxins make the gums separate from the teeth, creating pockets where more plaque can accumulate. Then the infection spreads to the jaw bone and tissue, where it can cause permanent damage and weaken the support necessary to hold teeth in place. Ultimately, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease is a term used for many conditions that affect your heart. Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that involve blood vessels becoming blocked or narrowed, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. About 735,000 heart attacks occur every year, and in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men, causing one in every four deaths.
What is the connection between gum disease and heart disease?
Although proving causation is difficult, research has shown a strong association between gum disease and heart disease. In fact, studies have found that patients who have both gum and heart disease have significantly higher cardiovascular care costs than those with heart disease alone. Other studies say that gum disease increases your risk of heart disease by 20 percent.
So how does a disease that starts in the mouth impact your heart? Well, gum disease causes inflammation. Your gums can bleed easily when infected with gum disease, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and circulate to other areas of your body. These bacteria could aggravate and contribute to inflammation in the arteries or other important blood vessels, making blood flow more difficult and making a heart attack or stroke more likely.
Could taking care of your gums help your heart?
More research is needed to determine whether preventing gum disease could help in preventing heart disease, but it certainly doesn’t hurt! So make sure you brush and floss daily and visit the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Your heart may just thank you down the road.
In the end, gum disease is a serious condition that can impact your overall health in significant ways. It is worth taking the time and effort to address and prevent in order to have a healthy mouth and potentially a healthier heart. If you think you have gum disease, contact your dentist in Roswell for treatment.
About the Author
Dr. Caitlin Mercke is the owner and operator of Elite Dentistry in Marietta. She has years of dental experience and is currently pursuing her Fellowship in General Dentistry. She and her staff strive to leave positive, lasting impressions on their patients by using the best technology dentistry has to offer, such as soft tissue lasers, which can be used to treat gum disease. To make an appointment with her, you can call (770) 587-5655 or click here.