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Healthy Teeth, Healthy Life: How Poor Dental Health & Medical Issues are Related

Many people may not be aware that by having healthy oral health puts you in a step in the right direction for better overall medical health. Whether it is keeping cavities or gum disease at bay, a healthy mouth equals a healthy heart. Gum disease, in particular, can impact your overall health. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is following current research studies on the correlation between gum disease and heart disease. In addition, there is also a direct correlation between tooth decay and other medical conditions.

Even though gum disease does not directly cause heart disease, there is plenty of evidence to indicate that they are linked. In addition to heart disease, gum disease has been linked to diabetes, certain cancers, and strokes. This means that taking care of your teeth and gums can affect your heart and overall health. The experienced professionals at SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in New York City offer diagnosis and treatment for gingivitis and periodontitis. Learn more about the cause and symptoms of gum disease, as well as treatments and prevention tips.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is an infection in the soft tissue of your mouth. Also known as periodontal disease, it can develop when the sticky bacteria known as plaque begins to build up around the teeth. Plaque is most commonly formed when starches and sugars mix with saliva. The formation of plaque is a natural process and happens to everyone. However, the plaque can usually be removed when you incorporate a consistent daily good oral health routine that includes brushing and flossing, as well as making a visit to your dentist’s office for twice yearly cleanings. If plaque is not removed, it can turn into hardened tartar on your enamel. The two together (tartar and plaque) can create the start of problems including the first stage of gum disease, which is known as gingivitis. If it isn't identified and addressed, gingivitis will develop into periodontitis. The next stage of gum disease, periodontitis will cause the gums to pull away from the root of the tooth, which makes your teeth loose. Without proper treatment, the infection can spread to the rest of your mouth (teeth and jawbone) and your body if it reaches your bloodstream.

Signs There May Be A Problem

Gum disease is more common than you think. Close to half of adults in the United States show periodontal problems. Because the earliest signs of gum disease are small and not painful, it may at first be hard for you to recognize. The best way to check and make sure you do not have gum problems is to diligently schedule and attend dental cleanings and exams at your dentist’s office. It's also important to know what signs to watch for, so you can get in to see your dentist earlier if you notice symptoms. The earliest symptoms of gingivitis are red, tender, and swollen gums that bleed easily when you floss or brush. Chronic bad breath (halitosis) is also a hint that you should get an examination at your dentist. A more serious symptom is a pus or a sore between your gums and teeth. You may also see a brownish colored buildup of hard deposits just above your gumline on your teeth. If you see your gums are rising or your teeth feel loose, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately for an examination.

Your Treatment Options

Gingivitis is often treated with scaling and root planing (SRP). During an SRP treatment, a tool called a scaler is used to remove plaque and tartar buildup out of your gum pockets. After the scaling is complete, we will smooth (plane) the enamel to decrease crevices and rough surfaces where plaque and tartar typically gets trapped. Usually, this deeper cleaning helps keep your gums healthy between your regular cleanings. However if your condition has become periodontitis, periodontal surgery to address deeper areas of the gums may be recommended.

Tips For Healthy Oral Health

Healthy gums are the foundation of a beautiful smile. If you'd like to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your mouth healthy, there are several actions to reduce your risk:

Regular exams and cleanings
Schedule appointments at your dentist twice a year for an oral health exam and professional cleanings. Dental exams give your dentist the opportunity to catch problems like gingivitis when it first appears so it is less difficult to repair. Cleanings remove built-up plaque and tartar that you can have trouble reaching at home. Frequent trips to a dentist can help you fight off gum disease as well as decreasing the risk of heart disease by receiving exams and cleanings. If you have dental fears that make it difficult to go to regular appointments, our office in New York, NY offers different sedation dentistry techniques to keep you calm so you can get these crucial exams and cleanings.

Get an annual physical
We recommend you schedule an exam at least once a year with your primary care physician to evaluate your health. Your doctor will run diagnostic tests to check if you have or are at risk for health problems. After reading your test results, your doctor can recommend ways to improve your health, which may reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease. Common recommendations are watching your blood pressure, being at a healthy weight, and treating your health conditions like diabetes can help you reduce your chances of getting gum disease.

Avoid Tobacco
Adults who use tobacco products (smoking, chewing, or vaping) are much more likely to suffer from oral conditions, so you should quit right away can help lower your chance of developing periodontal disease and oral cancer. If you need help, talk to your primary care physician about smoking and other tobacco cessation treatments, such as special gum, patches, and prescription medication.

Improve your daily habits and lifestyle
When you eat a balanced diet that minimize the consumption of processed and sugary foods, you can reduce the development of plaque and tartar on your teeth, which decreases your chance of getting any oral health disease. Lowering your level of stress and establishing a weekly workout regimen can also help to reduce your risk of getting periodontal disease.

Keep your gums, teeth, and heart healthy

If you want to protect your heart, start by improving your gums. Find a dentist you trust and visit at least twice a year to prevent gum disease. At SmilesNY in New York, NY we are skilled in preventing, diagnosing, and treating gum disease and other dental health issues. Schedule an oral health exam along with developing a stellar oral health regimen at home so you have a gorgeous smile for life.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.