Did you know that people with gum disease are up to 3x more at risk for a heart attack?¹ For years, researchers have been working to find the exact link between cardiovascular disease and gum disease (periodontal disease). While there is still much to be discovered, a few facts are certain:
- Gum disease is a direct contributor to a higher risk of heart disease.
- Poor oral health increases the potential for harmful bacteria or plaque to enter the bloodstream, which can inflame or clog arteries and heart valves. (This is especially harmful to those with artificial heart valves.)
- Patterns seen in tooth loss are connected to the patterns seen in coronary artery disease.²
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth. Gum disease is most often a result of poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing or flossing your teeth correctly. By not brushing or flossing, plaque will build-up on the teeth. Plaque is a type of sticky bacteria that feeds off of sugars on your teeth and in your saliva. Without a consistent tooth-brushing routine, your mouth will keep the sugars from consumed food and beverages on the surface of your teeth and gums creating a breeding ground for harmful bacteria — plaque. Gum disease itself causes swollen and bleeding gums, pain when chewing, tooth decay, and tooth loss.³
Why Can Gum Disease Cause a Heart Attack?
Gum disease is a result of the thick, sticky, harmful bacteria referred to as plaque. Plaque grows on the teeth and around the gums like a film, feeding off of food residue in your mouth. When plaque isn’t cleared from the mouth, it becomes thicker and more harmful. This type of developed plaque is made up of fats, cholesterol, and calcium. As the infection around the gums progresses, plaque will fall into the bloodstream. Because of the thick, fatty makeup of the plaque, it will have a hard time passing and will build up in arteries. Fatty plaque found in arteries is the trademark of coronary artery disease. Don’t fear — gum disease is easily diagnosable and treatable.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Chronic bad breath
- Red or inflamed gums
- Sensitive or bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Receding gum-lines
If you are concerned that you may have any of these symptoms, call your dental office and schedule an oral wellness exam or dental cleaning for an evaluation.
Treatments for Gum Disease
Treatment for gum disease primarily consists of gaining control over the infection. There is no one treatment course, each treatment plan will be customized to best serve the patient. However, your dentist may ask you to make some lifestyle changes to help your chances of healing such as quitting smoking.
How to Prevent Heart Disease with Oral Hygiene:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.
- At night before bed, brush your teeth using 3M™ Clinpro™ 5000 1.1% Sodium Fluoride Anti-Cavity Toothpaste.
(This toothpaste contains professional-grade fluoride and can only be bought from authorized dealers such as Potomac Dental Centre. If interested in purchasing, call us today: (301) 790 – 2007.)
- Floss regularly to remove plaque build-up between teeth.
(If flossing sounds unappealing, try investing in your dental office’s recommended electric toothbrush or a Waterpik.)
- Regularly attend dental cleanings twice a year or every 6 months.
- Give up smoking.
The idea that gum disease can influence your risk for heart disease can be scary, but don’t fear it. Your dentist and their team are trained to help you overcome any oral health obstacle.
Not sure if you’ve found a dental practice you trust to take care of your overall well-being? At Potomac Dental Centre, we’re helping thousands of our patients control inflammation in their mouths and regain control of their overall wellness. Our team will assess, treat, and monitor your oral health so you don’t have to battle this alone.
Call us today to schedule your dental cleaning with a complimentary oral wellness exam.
¹“Gum Disease and Heart Disease: The Common Thread.” Harvard Health, February 15, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease-the-common-thread
²Salinas, Thomas. “Your Teeth and Your Heart: What’s the Connection?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, November 10, 2020.
³“Periodontal (Gum) Disease.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, July 2018. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info