Since February is Heart Health and Gum Disease Awareness month, we thought we’d write a blog about the connection between the two. You may be surprised, but studies strongly suggest that people with periodontal (gum) disease have nearly double the chance of developing heart disease. That’s more reason than ever before to floss each day!
Your dentist in north Dallas will explain how these two seemingly unrelated body parts are connected. You’ll also learn some easy ways to improve the health of your gums that can make your mouth (and body) stronger and healthier. And when it comes to healthcare, who wouldn’t want to kill two birds with one stone?
How Are the Gums and the Heart Related?
Since the medical and dental fields are separate, many people think that of the mouth as being somehow separate from the body. But in reality, everything is connected and can affect everything else!
Although studies are ongoing and the link isn’t fully understood yet, researchers think that bacteria and inflammation are the connecting factors.
Plaque and tartar are mainly made of bacteria and hide under the gumline where it can be hard to remove. To complicate matters further, gum disease can cause deep “pockets” to form around your teeth that make it even more difficult to remove this bacteria.
This causes two problems. First, the gum tissues will become inflamed and infected, resulting in bleeding or swollen gums, tenderness when flossing, chronic bad breath and (in advanced stages) loose teeth.
Second, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the entire body, including the heart. Once there they can cause inflammation and plaque to form, which can harden and narrow the arteries.
How Can You Improve the Health of Your Gums?
Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to help keep your gums free from excessive bacteria and inflammation.
- See your dentist regularly – Checkups and cleanings are a chance for your dentist to examine your gums and gently remove the plaque and tartar from under your gumline. If you have gum disease, they can explain your options for professional gum disease therapy.
- Establish a hygiene routine – Excellent homecare is absolutely crucial, particularly for patients who have gum disease. Brush 2-3 times a day with an electric toothbrush and floss daily. An oral irrigator is especially helpful to flush out bacteria from under the gums where even floss has a hard time reaching. If you have any areas that continue to bleed, that’s a sign to brush and floss that area more!
- Be receptive to your dentist’s recommendations – Gum disease is kind of like diabetes – it can be managed but not cured. As such, it’s important to be open to any recommendations and commit to doing your part. You and your dentist are a team, both working towards the same goal of your good health!
About the Author
Dr. John A. Grinaldi is an award-winning dentist who is committed to providing the best comprehensive dental care possible. He knows that educating his patients about how their gum health affects their overall health can ultimately save lives. As such, he provides thorough, in-office gum therapy as well as instruction on keeping things healthy at home. He can be reached for questions via his website or at (972) 437-4746.