Heart Health and Gum Disease

A healthy mouth is about more than just stopping tooth decay and having a great-looking smile — 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, strokes, and some cancers. All of this means that healthy teeth and gums can have a positive effect on general health. The board-certified team of dental professionals at DentalWorks – Concord offer treatments for gum disease. Read on for more information about the cause and symptoms of periodontal disease, as well as how to treat and prevent gum problems.

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 inflammed, red gums that bleed easily. If it is not diagnosed and treated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. A more advanced stage of periodontal disease, periodontitis causes gumline recession, 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.

Periodontal (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 professional cleanings and examinations at a dentist in Kannapolis, 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, red, and tender 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, make an appointment to see your dentist right away for diagnosis and treatment.

The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is usually 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 great smile. If you want to avoid dealing with the symptoms or consequences of periodontal disease, there are many things you can do to decrease your risk:

    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 suggest 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 periodontal disease.
    Go to your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings and an oral health exam. Exams allow your dentist to look for 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 on your own. Regular visits to a trustworthy dentist can help you avoid periodontal disease and greatly reduce your chance of developing heart disease through oral health exams and cleanings. If you have dental fears or anxieties that keep you from routine appointments, our practice in Kannapolis, NC offers several levels of sedation dentistry to make you feel calm and relaxed so you don’t avoid these important appointments.
    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.
    If you eat a healthy diet that avoids sugary and processed foods, you can stop the formation of tartar and plaque 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 heart and gum disease.

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 Kannapolis, NC has board-certified and experienced dental professionals who focus on diagnosing and reversing the varying stages of periodontal disease. Prevent gingivitis and periodontitis by getting a dental examination and then following an oral care routine at home that give you an attractive smile.