The Link Between Gum and Heart Disease
THE MEDICAL RISKS LINKED TO GUM DISEASE
Keeping your mouth healthy is about more than just stopping tooth decay and making your smile look great — healthy gums means a healthier heart. The AAP (the American Academy of Periodontology) is watching many studies researching the connection between periodontal problems and heart disease. While periodontal disease doesn't cause or lead to heart disease, there is research to suggest that the two are connected. Beyond heart disease, periodontal disease is linked to diabetes, certain cancers, and strokes. All of this means that taking care of your teeth and gums can have a positive effect on general health. The experienced professionals at DentalWorks - Wake Forest offer treatments for gum disease. Read on for more information about the cause and symptoms of gum disease, as well as treatments and prevention tips.
Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammation of the soft tissue holding your teeth. This situation occurs when plaque (a sticky bacteria) builds up on your enamel. Plaque is created when starches and sugars combine with your saliva. This is normal and happens all the time. However, the plaque is typically removed when you floss, brush, and go to your dentist for regular cleanings. If it is not properly removed, plaque becomes a hardened substance known as tartar. The two together (plaque and tartar wreak havoc in your mouth, initiating gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums that bleed easily. If it is not diagnosed and treated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. A more advanced stage of periodontal disease, periodontitis causes the gums to pull away from the root of the tooth, which makes your teeth feel loose. Without treatment, the problem can spread to your teeth, jawbone, and eventually, your whole body if it gets into your blood.
Gum disease is more common than you might realize. Nearly half of the adult population suffers from some degree of the condition. Since early symptoms of periodontal disease are often painless, it's difficult for you to diagnose on your own. The easiest way to make sure you don't have gum disease is to schedule and attend professional cleanings and examinations at a dentist in Wake Forest, NC. Also, know what to look for when brushing, so you can stay ahead of the curve and schedule an appointment if you're concerned. The most common signs of gum disease are inflamed, tender, and red gums that bleed after you brush, floss, or eat hard foods. Halitosis (chronic bad breath) is also a clue that something is going on in your mouth and you could use a checkup. An advanced sign is the presence of sore or pus between your teeth and gums. You might also notice a buildup of hard brown deposits at the top of your teeth near the gumline. If you notice that your gumline is receding or your teeth are loose, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away for diagnosis and treatment.
Gingivitis is often treated with at least one scaling and root planing (SRP) procedure. During a scaling and root planing procedure, your dentist will use a scaling tool to remove buildup from your gum pockets. Then, they will smooth or plane the enamel of the tooth to remove rough surfaces and crevices where buildup often develops. Your dentist may prescribe a round of antibiotics following your scaling and root planing procedure to eliminate any additional bacteria in your gums. If your gum disease has progressed to periodontitis, your dentist might recommend periodontal surgery so they can reach deeper sections of your gums than a scaling and root planing treatment.
Strong teeth and gums are the basis of a beautiful smile. If you want to avoid dealing with the symptoms or consequences of periodontal disease, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk:
- HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
If you eat a healthy diet that avoids sugary and processed foods, you can stop the formation of plaque and tartar on your enamel, which minimizes your risk of developing gum disease. Reducing your stress levels and following a regular exercise routine may also decrease your risk of gum and heart disease.
- ROUTINE MEDICAL CHECKS
You should schedule an annual exam with your general practitioner to check your overall health. Your physician will perform diagnostics like blood tests to see if you are at risk or have common health issues. Based on your results, your physician may recommend ways to improve your overall health, which can decrease your risk of oral health problems. For example, controlling your cholesterol, being at a healthy weight, and managing common health issues will decrease your chances of suffering from gum disease.
- REGULAR DENTAL VISITS
Go to your dentist at least twice a year for an oral health exam and professional cleanings. Exams allow your dentist to catch problems like gum disease in the early stages so it's easier to treat. Professional cleanings address tartar and plaque, which you may have trouble reaching at home. Regular visits to a trustworthy dentist can help you avoid periodontal disease and greatly reduce your risk of heart disease through exams and cleanings. If you have dental fears or anxieties that keep you from routine appointments, our practice in Wake Forest, NC offers several levels of sedation dentistry to keep you calm and relaxed so you can get these important exams and cleanings.
- QUIT SMOKING
People who use tobacco (smoking cigars or cigarettes, vaping, or chewing) are seven times for likely to have dental problems, which is why quitting immediately can prevent gingivitis, periodontitis, as well as mouth cancer. For help, ask your doctor about tobacco cessation methods, including gum, nicotine patches, as well as medication.
HEALTHY FOR LIFE
Protect your heart by improving your oral health. Choose a great dentist and visit their office at least two times every year to avoid periodontal disease and other dental problems. Our practice in Wake Forest, NC has board-certified and experienced dental professionals who focus on diagnosing and reversing the varying stages of periodontal disease. Fight against gingivitis and periodontitis by getting a dental examination and then following an oral care routine at home that give you a gorgeous smile.
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.