February 2019 Newsletter – Pasadena, TX
Protect Your Heart Via Your Gums!
When it comes to deadly diseases, heart disease is by far the most lethal, at least in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease takes the lives of 610,000 people every year. This makes it the number-one killer of both men and women in the U.S. With statistics like these, it’s more important than ever to remain vigilant against the risk factors for heart disease.
But did you know that by having other conditions, you actually put yourself at higher risk of developing heart disease? According to an ever-growing body of research on the gum and heart health connection, gum disease can become a very real factor in whether or not you develop cardiovascular conditions later in life.
At Pasadena Family Dentistry, we care about whole-body wellness, not exclusively your oral health. Even though research has not provided undeniable proof that gum disease causes heart disease, there’s more than enough evidence to conclude that keeping your gums healthy is important to reducing your risk. For Heart Health month, our current newsletter will focus on the heart and gum health connection, what can happen if you don’t have gum disease treated, and how you can practice proper prevention.
How are Gum Health and Heart Health Linked?
When determining the connection between gum health and heart health specifically, it’s important to consider multiple research studies.
To start, a 2016 study conducted in Sweden at the Karolinska University Hospital found that gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28 percent. Furthermore, a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine notes that those who had received adequate care for their gum disease had between 10 to 40 percent lower cardiovascular costs compared to those who did not.
Regardless of the study, the common link between gum disease and heart disease is essentially inflammation caused by the spread of bacteria throughout the body. When gum disease develops, it allows bacteria that are typically exclusive to the mouth to travel through the bloodstream and toward the heart. This bacterium attaches to the heart before triggering an inflammatory response.
It cannot be stressed enough how dangerous inflammation is for your health, especially when it comes to your heart.
What Happens if My Gum Disease Goes Untreated?
In 2012, the American Heart Association (AHA) reported that it reviewed all available scientific evidence and concluded that while poor oral health isn’t proven to cause heart disease directly, it doesn’t mean that it can’t increase your risk.
What the AHA did confirm was that a link was present, which means gum disease is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease, and poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the bloodstream. Without treating your gum disease, you put yourself at risk for:
- Heart attacks
- Damage to your blood vessels
- Hardened arteries (also known as atherosclerosis)
How Can Pasadena Family Dentistry Help Me?
The good news is while gum disease is a risk factor for heart disease, preventing issues with your gums is relatively straightforward. If you’re looking for the best ways to prevent gum disease from developing, take note of these proactive tips from our office.
- Brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, making sure to brush along the gumline.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from the sides of teeth.
- Visit our office once every six months for a thorough cleaning and examination.
- Avoid all tobacco products as they are proven to increase your risk for heart and gum disease.
- Eat a balanced diet of foods that promote gum health (i.e., onions, leafy greens, peppers, citrus fruits, apples, celery, carrots, and low-fat dairy products.)
If you aren’t sure if you have gum disease, look out for the following symptoms. If you have either one or multiple listed here, there’s no better time than now to get scheduled and visit our office. These symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed while brushing, flossing, or eating
- Gums that recede or make your teeth appear longer
- Chronic bad breath, even after brushing
With this information in mind, we hope that you consider visiting our office to protect your gums and as a result, reduce your risk for heart disease. Our office is fully-equipped to reverse the early stages of gum disease as well as treat existing gum disease before it does permanent damage. We hope to see you soon!