The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, and studies show a relationship between heart disease and gum disease.
Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection and inflammation of the gum tissues and bone that hold your teeth in place. In its early stage, it’s called gingivitis and can cause inflamed, red gums that bleed.
If not managed with proper daily oral care, gingivitis may worsen and become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a form of gum disease that causes the gum tissue to pull away from the tooth allowing for further tooth decay, loss of bone and eventually tooth loss.
Oral bacteria may be the link to heart disease
The main cause of gum disease is harmful oral bacteria found in tooth plaque and tartar. Oral bacteria can travel through the gum tissues into the bloodstream, all over the body, and into the heart valves and heart.
The bacteria can trigger inflammation throughout the body which may cause a narrowing of important arteries where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.1 And, it may cause an infection in the bloodstream that could result in heart attack. Gum disease can increase a person’s risk of heart disease by as much as 20 percent.2
Reduce your risk
Prevention of gum disease is possible with regular dental checkups and proper oral hygiene by brushing twice and flossing daily. Fluoride toothpaste can help reduce and prevent tooth decay, and the use of an antimicrobial mouth rinse may reduce bacteria and plaque. Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you experience any of these gum disease symptoms:
- Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Pain while chewing
- Tooth sensitivity
- Loose teeth
If you already have gum disease, it’s important you:
- Quit smoking. Smoking is strongly associated with gum disease. It weakens the immune system which makes it harder to fight any infections.
- Floss at least once daily. Flossing helps remove plaque beyond your toothbrush’s reach.
- Brush twice a day. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste, and don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria. Brushing helps remove food and plaque from your teeth and gums.
- Use a mouthwash. Mouthwashes can help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis and can reduce the speed that tartar develops.
- Get regular dental cleanings. A professional cleaning is the only way to remove tarter and allows your dentist to detect other symptoms before they become more serious.
AVMA LIFE Trust Dental Insurance covers preventative exams at little or no cost to you. Enroll today to help protect your heart and smile.
This post was provided by Delta Dental of Illinois, the AVMA LIFE Trust dental carrier.
1 Heart disease and oral health: role of oral bacteria in heart plaque, Harvard health Publishing – https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/heart-disease-oral-health
2 The link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3100856/