Many people don’t think that their oral health could impact their heart health, but the two are actually very strongly connected. In fact, a study published in the American Heart Association Journal found that there’s a connection between gum disease and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. If you have any of these symptoms below, it might be time to schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sacramento to discuss this further.
Signs of Gum Disease
First and foremost, it’s important to know and recognize the signs of gum disease so that if you suspect a problem you can see your dentist in Sacramento as soon as possible. Gum disease can be treated effectively, but treatment is more successful when the disease is in the early stages. Some of the most common signs of gum disease include:
- Gums that bleed while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Puffy, painful gums
- Bright red or purplish gums
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
- Changes in your bite or spaces between teeth
What Causes Gum Disease?
Most cases of gum disease are related to poor oral hygiene habits. Gum disease develops when plaque hardens on teeth, called tartar. Tartar is packed with bacteria that can cause more damage the longer the tartar sticks around. Additionally, tartar can’t be removed at home. Once plaque hardens into tartar, it must be removed through a professional dental cleaning.
What Does Gum Disease Have to Do With Heart Health?
Even though gum disease sounds like a mouth problem, it can actually affect the rest of the body, too. A study released last year from researchers at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the Forsyth Institute showed that active gum disease was an early risk factor in the patients studied who went on to have a heart attack. But why? Luckily, the researchers explained this as well and tied the increased risk of a cardiovascular event to inflammation. Gum inflammation can cause inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as the arteries, which increases the risk of a heart attack.
How to Prevent Gum Disease and Lower Risk of a Heart Attack
There are things you can do to reduce the risk of developing gum disease and, in turn, lower the risk of a heart attack. First, make sure to brush your teeth every day, twice a day, for two minutes each time. Also, don’t forget to floss at least once a day. Next, see your dentist in Sacramento at least every six months for checkups and cleanings. These regular checkups allow your dental team to remove any plaque that has accumulated since your last visit and monitor your oral health for any changes. After all, early intervention often means a better outcome.