It is a bit alarming to hear that greater than 80 percent of Americans have periodontal or gum disease. Making matters worse, often these conditions go undiagnosed. This could be because in many cases the patient’s teeth feel fine, so they do not bother to see a dentist. However, it should be noted poor dental health can eventually lead to heart disease.
In fact, there is now evidence of two specific links between oral health and heart disease. First, recent studies show that if you have gum disease even in a moderate stage, you are at greater risk for heart disease than others with healthy gums. Secondly, your oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for a variety of conditions, including those affecting the heart.
Oral health and heart disease are linked by the spread of bacteria from your mouth to other parts of your body through the blood stream. When bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area, causing inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic, this may eventually lead to an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Patients with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis are at the highest risk for developing heart disease due to poor oral health. Even if you don’t have gum inflammation, inadequate oral hygiene and accumulated plaque elevates your risk for gum disease. The bacteria can also migrate into your bloodstream causing elevated C-reactive protein. This is a warning sign for inflammation in the blood vessels.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against the development of gum disease. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and flossing regularly is encouraged. It is also recommended you use a toothpaste containing fluoride.
By being proactive about your oral health, you can protect yourself from developing a condition related to gum disease. You will also keep your teeth and smile looking great for years to come. In the Glenview area, please call the office of Dr. Malik at (847) 724-1771 for any questions regarding the link between oral health and your heart.