You already know that gum disease can cause a host of health problems, from severe tooth pain and tooth loss to bad breath and periodontal problems. What you may not know, however, is that neglecting the health of your gums could put the health of your heart at risk.
It may be frightening to contemplate, but there is definitive link between gum disease and heart disease. If you cannot remember the last time you visited the dentist, there are some very good reasons to make an appointment right away.
Research is still ongoing, but the results so far show a definitive link between chronic gum disease and the development of heart disease. When thinking about why this is the case, it is helpful to remember that gum disease is actually a bacterial infection of the mouth. The main theory involving the link between gum disease and heart health holds that the bacteria that cause gum disease are able to enter the bloodstream and attach themselves to the fatty deposits already present in the blood vessels.
Once there, those harmful gum disease causing bacteria hitch a ride through the blood vessels, where they can form blood clots. Those blood clots, in turn, can trigger heart attacks, reduce the pumping efficiency of the heart and lead to a host of other problems.
If you suffer from chronic gum disease or poor oral health, it is important to make an appointment with your doctor and have your heart evaluated. Many early signs of heart disease are silent, producing no symptoms until the illness is quite advanced. Without the right diagnostic tests, you may never know that your chronic gum disease has advanced and affected your heart.
If you already suffer from heart disease, taking care of your teeth and gums is even more important. Having heart disease can predispose you to a host of complications, and poor oral health will only make matters worse. Brushing and flossing regularly and seeing your dentist regularly is the best way to keep your gums and teeth healthy and keep the heart-damaging impact of chronic gum disease at bay.
It is also important to let your dentist know that you have a heart condition. Your dentist will take special care to avoid complications when performing tooth extractions, root canals and other procedures, and work with you to develop an oral health care plan that is good for your teeth, your gums and your heart.