You have probably heard your dentist mention that gum disease can place you at increased risk of heart disease. Research studies confirm the connection between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, one out of every four deaths is due to heart disease. Thus, understanding the connection between heart problems and gum health is important. Here are a few details about gum disease and its link to heart disease:
Signs of Gum Disease
So, what are the symptoms of gum disease? Gum disease begins as gingivitis, and the initial signs of mild gum inflammation include bad breath, swollen, tender gums and increased sensitivity to temperature and pressure.
In serious cases of gum disease, gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease, and your gums may be so inflamed that they bleed with little provocation. Symptoms can become so severe that tooth loss could occur. In other instances, the roots of the teeth become exposed from a receding gum line.
People who are 65 or older are most susceptible to periodontal disease. In fact, over 70 percent of people in this age group have periodontitis. Risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes and a family history of the disease, can increase your chances of developing it.
Links to Heart Disease
Several medical publications, such as the Journal of the American Heart Association, have published research results of studies about the link between Periodontitis and heart disease.
Experts suggest that unhealthy gums tend to increase a person's inclination to be diagnosed with heart disease. Since both illnesses are based in inflammation, they are often studied jointly.
What Can You Do About it?
Practicing good oral hygiene is always a good idea, and there are specific measures you can take to help avoid gum disease that may be linked to heart disease. Here are a few:
- Be sure to visit your dentist for regular check-ups every six months.
- If you experience any periodontal problems, such as bleeding or unusual gum pain, contact your dentist as soon as possible.
- Consume a diet loaded with fruits and veggies, especially crunchy ones, which can help to scrub bacteria from the gum line.
- Don't smoke.
- If you have a family history of gum problems or heart disease, share that information with your dentist and physician so that you can be properly monitored.
Your local dental professional can help you keep your gums healthy. For a full dental assessment, schedule an appointment with a dentist or periodontist, such as the Cumberland Periodontal Associate.