Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States. February Heart Health Month, and is dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and increasing knowledge about prevention.
Did you know that heart disease and oral health are linked?
Studies have shown that people with moderate or advanced periodontal disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with healthy gums. A recent study suggested that gum disease may increase a person’s risk of heart disease by about 20 percent. Other research released shows that people with gum disease may have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The American Dental Association and the American Heart Association have both acknowledged that a relationship exists between gum disease and heart disease
Research has focused on chronic inflammation as the culprit linking gum disease and heart disease. Diseased gums are chronically inflamed. Inflammation, along with the high concentrations of bacteria found in infected gums, can be damaging to arteries and cause atherosclerosis, or build up of plaque inside blood vessels. The plaque can occlude the vessels partially or completely, resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
Regular dental exams are the best way to prevent and detect gum disease in its earliest phases. If diagnosed, gum disease can be treated by your dentist, and your gums and underlying bone tissue can be restored to health.
Signs of gum disease:
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
- Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Teeth that are loose or separating from each other.
If you have any of these signs, visit your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.