How Gum Disease Can Affect Your Heart

Plaque is the number one factor that affects your dental health. It is constantly present in our mouths by what we eat or drink daily. It attaches to our teeth as a sticky substance that eventually can cause tooth decay by attacking the tooth enamel and gums. Plaque buildup, if left untreated, can lead to gum or periodontal disease. Even more important, today’s research shows that gum disease can lead to a compromise in your overall health, specifically your heart health. The dentists and professional staff at SmilesNY, in the New York City area, want to get the word out that daily brushing and regular dental exams are not only important for your teeth but also your heart. Here is some important information on how gum disease happens, how it can be treated, and why it is important to not only prevent it for your oral healthcare but also for your cardiac well being.

Research says

The list of health problems linked to poor dental health continues to grow. Research finds that bacteria and inflammation of the gums has been linked to such serious health concerns like dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and most importantly, heart attacks or strokes. Essentially, oral health can be the first indicator to an individual’s overall health and be linked to signs of what may be coming. Since a 2009 study issued by the American Academy of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology, it was highly recommended that cardiologists ask their patients about any gum disease and vice versa for dentists or periodontists to ask patients about any heart disease since the 2 conditions have been linked.

Gingivitis...the early stages of gum disease

Gingivitis is considered the treatable form of gum disease. It can be reversed, once detected, with better daily brushing and flossing along with regular dental cleanings. Even though it is the beginning stages of gum disease, research shows it can increase the risk for heart disease or stroke in patients due to an increased level of bacteria present in the mouth. The earlier the intervention, with the care of a hygienist and dentist, like the professionals at SmilesNY in New York City then the easier it is to eliminate signs of gingivitis while continuing to have better oral care done daily at home.

Gum disease...untreated gingivitis

If signs of gingivitis go left untreated then it can lead to gum disease or periodontal disease. Gum disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth due to a buildup of plaque or tartar. There can be different levels of gum disease but the common response is an inflammatory response causing the gums to swell while trying to fight off the bacteria in the infected parts of the mouth. Some signs of gum disease are:

  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums

  • Tooth sensitivity

  • Abscessed tooth or toothache even tooth loss

  • Bad breath

  • Visible signs of plaque or tartar buildup on the teeth

Gum disease and your heart

A common question asked is “how can our teeth affect our heart”? Heart disease has different types or variations but the main one linked to gum disease is coronary artery disease. Research has found that those that suffered from coronary artery disease were also twice as likely to have had a prior issue with gum disease. Coronary artery disease occurs when plaque builds up (from fat, calcium, cholesterol and other factors) on the walls of the coronary arteries in the heart which eventually will impede blood flow. When gums are compromised by gum disease, they are inflamed or swollen due to the high levels of bacteria or plaque in the mouth. When a person brushes or attempts to floss, their gums will bleed which can send that bacteria or plaque directly through their bloodstream which can end up in their heart.

As a person’s level of periodontal disease or gum disease increases, it only increases the levels of bacteria in their mouth, therefore, increasing the health risks on their heart. Studies also show that inflamed or irritated gums can also cause an inflammatory response in other parts of the body which also increases a person’s risk of stroke or heart disease.

Reducing your chances

Many individuals may have gum disease and not even realize they have it. Over 75% of Americans do and without regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene on a daily basis, more and more individuals are putting themselves at risk for not only gum disease but also other medical conditions. Gum disease is preventable with regular brushing and flossing but most importantly regular visits to your dentist. Dental exams and cleanings every 6 months are key to having good oral health along with daily care at home.

Your teeth are not only important for your appearance or your smile but they could also be the first line of defense to keeping your heart healthy. Not taking care of your teeth or seeing a dentist regularly can lead to serious health concerns and your teeth could be your first indication there is a problem. If you feel you may have the beginning stages of gingivitis or the more serious concern of gum disease, you need to make an appointment with your local dental provider. In most cases, gingivitis and early stages of gum disease can be taken care of with extensive dental cleaning. If the gum disease has reached a more severe stage, then the dentist will determine the best course of action needed. If you are concerned you may be dealing with gum disease please contact our professional staff at SmilesNY, in New York City, to schedule an appointment to see one of our dentists today.

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