Periodontal disease and heart health

Periodontal disease and heart health

The link between periodontitis and heart disease

Many people don’t realize the seriousness of periodontal disease or periodontitis. Bleeding gums may seem like no big deal, but in fact, this disease is so serious that research has linked it to heart disease the nation’s leading cause of death in both men and women.

Signs of gum disease

Gum disease begins when plaque builds up around your teeth. This soft, sticky film is full of bacteria and results in inflammation and sore, swollen gums — all signs of gum disease. Gum disease generally shows up as either gingivitis, which generates red, painful, tender gums, or periodontitis, which causes infected gum pockets and can result in loose teeth. Left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. It’s periodontitis which enables bacteria and other toxins to spread to other parts of the body, and can lead to heart disease.

The link between the health of your gums and this deadly disease —  which takes about 610,000 lives a year —  lies in the bacteria that can enter the bloodstream and lead to hardening of the arteries. This condition, known as atherosclerosis, hinders the flow of blood to the heart, putting you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke.

It’s important to consult your dentist if you see any of the signs of periodontal disease, such as swollen, red, or tender gums; gums that bleed easily; pus between the teeth and gums and bad breath.

Treatment and prevention

Brushing your teeth and flossing faithfully can prohibit and even reverse the earliest form of gum disease, gingivitis. However, if your gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, your dentist may recommend steps to eliminate the infection in order to reduce any detrimental effects throughout your body. Most likely, a first step would be a special deep cleaning called scaling and root planning, a nonsurgical procedure which either your dentist or a hygienist can perform. The process involves the use of manual scalers or ultrasound devices to remove plaque and tartar on tooth and root surfaces, so gum tissue can heal and periodontal pockets can shrink. Most patients only require a local anesthetic, such as Novocain, through the procedure.
Treating gum disease can go a long way in lessening the impact of coronary artery disease. And good oral health can prevent gum disease in the first place. So, be sure to brush and floss properly, and see your dentist for regular checkups. Contact Dr. Arredondo at Dr. Dondo Dental Excellence to book your appointment today.


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