The Link Between Gum and Heart Disease


Taking good care of your mouth is more important than just avoiding cavities and making sure your smile is dazzling — a healthy mouth equals a healthy heart. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is following several scientific studies investigating the link between gum disease and heart disease. Although gum disease does not directly lead to or cause heart disease, there is plenty of evidence to show that they are linked. In addition to heart disease, gum disease has been linked to strokes, certain cancers, and diabetes. This shows that good oral hygiene can positively impact your heart and overall health. The experienced team of board-certified dental professionals at DentalWorks – Cary Crossroads offer diagnosis and treatment for periodontal disease. Learn more about the cause of gum disease, symptoms to watch for, as well as how to prevent and treat gum disease.

Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) causes inflammation in the mouth’s soft tissue. Gum disease starts when a sticky bacteria (plaque) begins to build up around the teeth. Plaque is made when starches and sugars mix with the saliva in your mouth. This process is completely natural and happens to everyone. However, the plaque should be removed when you brush, floss, and visit your dentist’s office for bi-annual cleanings. If it’s not completely removed, plaque turns into tartar, a harder substance. The tartar and plaque together cause problems like gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease. Signs of gingivitis include red or swollen gums that bleed after brushing or flossing. If it’s not caught and stopped, gingivitis will progress to periodontitis. The second stage of gum disease, periodontitis can cause your gumline to recede, which makes the teeth feel loose. If you don’t get treatment, the infection can spread through your mouth and possibly, your entire body if it reaches your bloodstream.

An infection in the gums (known as gum or periodontal disease) is more common than you think. Almost half of American adults have been diagnosed with some degree of gum disease. Because the first signs of gum disease don’t usually cause pain, it can be hard for you to identify by yourself. The best way to check and make sure you do not have periodontal disease is to diligently make appointment for dental cleanings and oral health exams at your dentist’s office in Cary, NC. It also helps to know the symptoms of gum disease, so you can be proactive and visit your dentist sooner if you notice symptoms. The first symptoms of periodontal disease are red, tender, or inflamed gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss. Chronic bad breath (halitosis) is also a sign of a problem and you need to schedule a dental exam. A more serious symptom is a visible pus or a sore along your gumline. You may also have a brown buildup on your enamel near the gumline. If you think your gums are changing or your teeth feel loose, contact your dentist as soon as possible for an oral health exam.

Usually, gingivitis is treated with one or more scaling and root planing (SRP) treatment. During an SRP treatment, your dentist will use a special tool known as a scaler to remove debris from under your gumline. Next, your dentist will plane (smooth) the surface of each tooth to eliminate crevices where debris usually hides. Your dentist may write you a prescription for antibiotics after an SRP treatment to address any lingering bacteria in your mouth. If your gingivitis has advanced to periodontitis, your dentist may need to perform periodontal surgery to treat deeper areas of your gums than SRP therapy.

Healthy gums and teeth are the foundation of an amazing smile. To make sure you never have to deal with the consequences or symptoms of gum disease, there are a couple of ways to avoid problems:

    When you eat a balanced diet that limits processed and sugary foods, you can reduce the development of buildup on your teeth, which reduces your chance of getting periodontal disease. Managing stress and establishing a weekly workout regimen can also help to reduce your chance of developing gingivitis.
    Visit your dentist two times a year for a professional cleaning and dental examination. Annual exams help your dentist to watch for problems like periodontal disease early so it is simpler to fix. Dental cleanings remove built-up plaque and tartar that you might have trouble removing on your own. Bi-annual appointments with an experienced dentist can help you fight off gum disease while also reducing the risk fo getting heart disease with cleanings and examinations. If you have dental anxieties or fears that stop you from going to your appointments, our office in Cary, NC offers different types of sedation to help you feel relaxed and calm so you will come to these critical oral health exams and professional cleanings.
    Schedule an exam every year with your doctor to assess your general health. Your doctor will use blood tests and other diagnostics to determine if you have or are at risk for any health problems. When they get your test results, your doctor can discuss ways to improve your general health, which may reduce your chance of developing gum disease. Some examples are lowering your blood pressure, getting to or staying at a healthy weight, and addressing any health conditions like diabetes can help you reduce your chances of developing oral health problems.
    Anyone who uses any form of tobacco (smoking cigarettes or cigars, chewing, or vaping) are far more likely to suffer from oral conditions, so you should quit right away can help reduce your risk of getting gum disease and oral cancer. If you need help, talk to your primary care physician about smoking and other tobacco cessation aids, like nicotine patches, gum, and prescription medication.

If you want to protect your heart, start by improving your dental health. Find a dentist you like and schedule appointments at least twice a year to reduce your risk of gum disease and improve your oral health. Our practice in Cary, NC has experienced, board-certified professionals who are skilled in preventing, diagnosing, and treating all stages of gum disease. Reduce your risk of gum disease by scheduling an oral health exam plus developing a stellar oral health regimen at home to make sure you have a healthy and beautiful smile for life.