Most people are unaware of the link between oral health and overall health. In fact, more than 80-percent of America's population is living with undiagnosed gum disease or periodontal disease. The reason for this is most of the symptoms are painless and therefore patients skip dentist appointments until they are forced by some physical symptoms to visit the dentist.
Recent studies have pointed to a link between oral health and heart disease specifically. Recent studies reveal that people with moderate to advance stages of gum disease are far more likely to develop heart disease than their counterparts with healthy gums.
Revelations from new studies have also given doctors clues into a person's heart condition simply by looking at the teeth and mouth. There are certain warning signs of heart disease that manifest as oral health issues.
Relation between the Mouth and the Heart
The reason for the link between heart disease and oral health is bacteria and other germs easily spread from the mouth to the various parts of the body via the blood stream. The bacteria found in the mouth can therefore find its way into the heart and cause inflammation in any already damaged areas of the heart. This manifests as heart diseases and illnesses including endocarditis which is an infection of the heart's inner lining.
Additional heart conditions that have been so far linked with oral health (or lack thereof) including stroke and atherosclerosis also known as clogged arteries.
Are You at Risk of Heart Disease?
Studies show that people suffering from untreated chronic gum conditions such as advanced periodontal and gingivitis are at high risk of developing heart disease.
Besides gum disease, people who neglect oral hygiene are also at high risk of heart disease. Accumulated plaque poses a risk of bacteria finding its way into the blood stream and elevating the C-reactive protein. This protein is a marker identified for inflamed blood vessels including arteries.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Note that simply because you have gum disease doesn’t automatically mean that you also suffer or may suffer from heart disease. Common symptoms of gum disease to watch out for include;
- Pus around the teeth and gums
- Swelled, red and sore gums
- Loose teeth
- Receding gum line
- Frequent foul taste in your mouth or bad breath
Preventing Gum Disease
The best way to protect yourself from gum disease and subsequently possible heart disease is to practice good oral hygiene. Learn to brush and floss properly. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss every night before bed.
Finally, take a proactive measure to protect your oral health by visiting your dentists at least two times a year. Any early signs of gum disease can be spotted and treated accordingly.