Most Hendricks Country folks know they need to take care of their teeth for a strong, healthy smile. But did you know that poor oral health and heart disease are linked together?
Doctors have found two specific links between oral health and heart disease. Recent studies show that if you have moderate or advanced gum disease, you have a greater risk of developing heart disease when compared to someone who has healthy gums. Additionally, your oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for a variety of diseases and conditions, including those related to the heart.
Why Are Oral Health and Heart Disease Linked?
When people in Hendricks County don’t take care of their teeth and don’t visit a dentist like Dr. Jon Erickson at Danville Family Dentistry regularly, plaque can build up on your teeth. Plaque is a soft, sticky film that contains millions of bacteria. This plaque buildup can lead to periodontal or gum disease.
If your gums are inflamed or infected, the bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream. When the bacteria reach your heart, it can attach itself to the blood vessels and increase your risk for heart disease. These bacteria can also cause inflammation and infection within your heart, such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
Additionally, bacteria that cause gum disease can release toxins into your bloodstream. These toxins help fatty plaque to form in your arteries, causing them to harden. Hardening arteries make your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body, which increases your chances of heart disease. Also, plaque deposits can cause blood clots that block blood flow, which can lead to strokes.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Heart Disease?
People with chronic gum conditions like gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease have the highest risk for heart disease due to poor oral health. Over 80% of Americans have gum disease, but they may not know it. Their teeth may feel fine, so they don’t see a dentist. When they go to their doctor, they likely don’t talk about their oral health. Therefore, they never realize they have gum disease. This could be you!
What Are the Warning Signs of Gum Disease?
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Red, swollen, or sore gums
- Gums that bleed when you eat or brush and floss your teeth
- Gums that look like they’re pulling away from your teeth
- Loose teeth
- Teeth that feel like they’re moving away from other teeth
What Can You Do?
The best ways to protect yourself from poor oral health and heart disease are to:
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Floss daily
- Visit Danville Family Dentistry twice a year for a dental check-up and professional cleaning. Contact us to schedule an appointment by calling our Hendricks County office at 317-745-4400.
- See Dr. Erickson as soon as possible if you develop any symptoms of gum disease.
When you take good care of your teeth, you can help protect your overall health from conditions like heart disease. Therefore, keep your smile – and your heart healthy!
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.