When most people stop to admire their smile in the mirror, they are not thinking about their heart. However, the health of your smile – specifically, the health of your gums – is actually closely linked to the health of your heart. How appropriate, then, that February is both American Heart Association Month and Gum Disease Awareness Month. Curious to know more? Let’s dive in and explore the connection between gum disease and heart health.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a very common bacterial infection of the gums, bones and ligaments that support the teeth. Just how common? According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of all American adults have mild, moderate or severe gum disease – that is over 60 million people!
Caused by the harmful bacteria in plaque, gum disease can lead to bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss if not treated by a dental professional.
How Gum Disease Relates to the Heart
Ready for some more stats? According to Harvard Health Publishing, people with gum disease have 2 to 3 times higher risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke!
Why is that? One theory is that P. gingivalis, the harmful bacteria that causes gum disease, can enter the blood supply through inflamed gums. When the bacteria then reaches vital organs such as the heart, it causes more inflammation and damage.
Overall, the scientific evidence linking gum disease to heart problems provides yet another reason why you should prioritize your oral health.
How You Can Prevent Gum Disease
Looking after your teeth and gums is key to protecting both your oral and overall health. The good news is that you can prevent gum disease by following these 3 simple tips:
- Brush Twice a Day – Prevent plaque from sticking to your teeth or gums by thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day for a full two minutes each time. Don’t forget to floss at least once a day as well!
- Do Not Use Tobacco – Regular tobacco use is a leading cause of gum disease.
- See Your Dentist Regularly – Biannual dental checkups are very important, as they allow a dental professional to check your mouth for the warning signs of gum disease and remove any plaque or tartar buildup from your teeth.
Take advantage of American Heart Association Month and Gum Disease Awareness Month to begin new, healthy oral care habits. For more preventive oral care tips that will benefit your smile – and your heart! – do not hesitate to call a dentist in Fort Worth today.
About the Author
A Texas native, Dr. Kelly Blair is committed to helping Fort Worth residents maintain healthy teeth and gums. In fact, she partners with the specialty diagnostic experts at OralDNA Labs in order to detect and diagnose gum disease in the earliest stages. Patients concerned about their oral health can visit Dr. Blair’s website or call 817-737-5155 to learn more about preventive dentistry and gum disease treatment.