Recent research has suggested a link between dental care and cardiovascular diseases. But, how and why are they connected? In this blog post, we will explore the link between dental care and heart disease, and provide tips on how to maintain good oral health for a healthier heart.
First, what is gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common condition that affects the gums and bone surrounding your teeth. The root cause of gum disease is plaque buildup on your teeth, which can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums.
Gum disease can take 2 forms: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form of gum disease and is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. With proper treatment, gingivitis can usually be reversed. On the other hand, periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease that occurs when the inflammation spreads to the bone and other supporting structures of the teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth and bone loss.
While anyone can develop gum disease, certain factors can increase your risks, such as poor oral hygiene, smoking, diabetes, hormonal changes, and genetic predisposition.
Symptoms of gum disease
Some common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or flossing
- Receding gums, which can make your teeth look longer than usual
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Loose or shifting teeth
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible for an evaluation. Early detection and treatment of gum disease can help prevent further damage and potential complications.
How is gum disease connected to heart disease?
It all comes down to bacteria. When you have gum disease, the bacteria that infect your gums can travel through your bloodstream to other parts of your body, including your heart. Once the bacteria reach your heart, they can cause inflammation and damage to your blood vessels, increasing your risk of developing heart disease.
Gum disease can also contribute to other risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. People with gum disease are more likely to have poorly controlled blood sugar levels and high blood pressure, both of which can increase the risk of heart disease.
The good news is that by taking care of your teeth and gums, you can reduce your risk of gum disease and potentially lower your risk of heart disease as well.
Tips for keeping your gums and body healthy
Now that we know the potential connection between gum disease and heart disease, let’s look at some practical steps you can take to keep your gums healthy and potentially lower your risk of heart disease.
- Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash to help kill bacteria. This will help remove plaque and prevent the buildup of tartar that can lead to gum disease.
- Visit your dentist regularly: It’s important to see your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups at least twice a year, or more often if you have a history of gum disease. Your dentist can help detect any early signs of gum disease and provide treatment before it progresses.
- Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for gum disease and can also increase your risk of heart disease. If you smoke, consider quitting to improve your overall health.
- Eat a balanced diet: A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can help support good oral health and reduce your risk of gum disease.
- Manage stress: Stress can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to gum disease. Practice relaxation techniques to help manage stress and support your overall health.
We are here to help
While the connection between gum disease and heart disease is still being studied, it’s clear that taking care of your teeth and gums is essential for overall health. By practicing good oral hygiene, visiting your dentist regularly, and maintaining healthy habits, you can reduce your risk of gum disease and potentially lower your risk of heart problems.
Remember, taking care of your teeth and gums is an investment in your overall health and well-being. Our experienced dentists at Austin Dental are here to help you keep your mouth and heart healthy for years to come!
Request an appointment online to visit us at our North Austin/Parmer Lane or South AustinWestlake locations.