The Surprising Link Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease

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The Surprising Link Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease

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In February, Valentine’s Day isn’t the only reason to celebrate hearts. This month is also American Heart Month—a time set aside to raise awareness about heart health and its related medical conditions. Heart disease is a major health issue in the United States; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that for years, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States. Therefore, finding successful prevention and treatment for this condition is incredibly important. Recently, more and more studies have shown that patients with gum disease, otherwise known as periodontal disease, are twice as likely to develop heart disease. At Smiles 4 Grant Park, we understand the deep connections between your oral health and the overall health and wellbeing of your body. If you have other risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high stress levels, or low levels of physical activity, it’s especially imperative to ensure your gums are as healthy as possible. Below, learn more about the links between gum disease and heart disease and how our Grant Park team can help you prevent or treat existing gum disease.

Are you experiencing signs and symptoms of gum disease? Contact us today to schedule a periodontal care appointment with Dr. Abbey Lee.

A Heart Connection

The link between these two conditions starts with tiny microscopic bacteria. The bacteria begins in your mouth, residing in the sticky build-ups of plaque on your teeth and gum line. When plaque is not adequately removed after eating, it can grow and harden into tartar, a hard substance that can separate gum tissue from teeth, causing “pockets” of periodontal disease to form. The harmful bacteria in the tartar and plaque can then enter the bloodstream in the mouth and travel through the circulatory system throughout the rest of the body.

Researchers have come to understand this process better after finding evidence of oral bacteria within plaque deposits in arteries. Scientists believe these oral bacteria are trapped by existing plaque buildup in the arteries; the newly arrived bacteria then cause widespread inflammation in the circulatory system as the body attempts to fight off the intruding infection. This inflammation leads to further restriction and loss of blood flow through the arteries.  

Treating Gum Disease

Gum disease has two distinct stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis can be treated with diligent brushing, antiseptic mouthwash, and thorough flossing at home. However, if gingivitis is not reversed, periodontitis, a more serious infection, can occur. Dr. Abbey Lee uses a procedure called scaling and root planing to eliminate periodontitis, and reverse the spread of the oral infection. During this procedure, special, minimally-invasive soft tissue lasers are used to remove plaque and tartar buildup underneath the gum line around the teeth roots.

Know the Warning Signs

Gums should be bright pink and tightly bonded to your teeth around the gum line. However, when infection and inflammation spread throughout the soft, supportive tissues in the mouth, your gums can begin presenting the following signs of gum disease:

  • gums that are sore, inflamed, or red
  • blood in the mouth after brushing or flossing
  • gum lines “pulling away” from the teeth
  • bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth even after brushing
  • one or more loose teeth

If you experience these symptoms, don’t wait: do your heart and gums a favor by scheduling a appointment with Dr. Lee immediately for prompt gum care and a thorough examination. In addition, reduce your chances of developing gum disease and theses symptoms by following diligent oral care routines at home, and staying on top of your bi-annual professional cleanings and preventive exams.

Contact Your Grant Park General Dentist

If you are looking for ways to not only improve your oral health, but reduce your risks for heart disease, schedule a dental cleaning and examination this month, in honor of American Heart Month. Your healthy gums (and heart) will thank you! Call to schedule your appointment with Dr. Abbey Lee at 404.328.7177.

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