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Does Gum Disease Affect Heart Health?

Does Gum Disease Affect Heart Health?

Most of us know the basic steps to better heart health: Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and do all you can to manage stress. But, there’s another important step you can take that you may not have heard of: Keep gum disease at bay.

Research shows mounting evidence of a surprising link between gum disease and heart health. Understanding how the two are related is important for making sure you’re doing all you can to prevent serious heart-related medical problems.

Abir Faraj, DDS, and the team at Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, offer state-of-the-art gum disease treatments for every stage of the disease, along with education and resources to help patients understand the complications gum disease can cause. Here’s what Dr. Faraj and her team want you to know about this important potential link between your gums and your heart health.

Gum disease basics

Gum disease is a top cause of adult tooth loss, and it’s also really common: About half of all Americans have some degree of gum disease, and as many as 30% have disease that’s so severe, they’re already at risk of losing one or more teeth.

Gum disease happens when bacteria that live in your mouth begin invading the spaces between your gums and your teeth. As bacteria multiply, they release toxins that irritate your gums. 

To avoid irritation, the gum tissue pulls away from the surfaces of your teeth, creating pockets that allow the bacteria to move down further. Eventually, the bacteria can cause deeper infections that affect the roots of your teeth, which can cause teeth to fall out.

Gum disease and heart health

Researchers have long suspected that gum disease and heart health may be related. Recent research shows the two may be related through the inflammatory process, which is common to both heart disease and gum disease.

With gum disease, the gums become swollen, red, and tender, which are all signs of inflammation. This inflammation also usually increases as the infection progresses, which plays a key role in tooth loss.

With heart disease, inflammation also plays a role, damaging heart structures, including the valves that keep your blood moving through your heart. Inflammation also plays a major role in atherosclerosis (“hardening” of the arteries), which is a major cause of heart disease.

Researchers also know that people with gum disease are more likely to have heart disease. In fact, people with gum disease have about 2-3 times the risk of developing a serious cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. 

What’s more, tissue studies in people with atherosclerosis have confirmed the presence of gum disease bacteria in fatty arterial deposits, demonstrating that these bacteria can travel to other parts of the body, where they can contribute to inflammation and disease.

Keep your gums healthy

Anyone can develop gum disease, but it’s more common among people with diabetes, smokers, and people with poor oral hygiene habits. One of the most important things you can do to keep your gums healthy is to have routine dental visits, so we can remove deposits of sticky plaque and tartar, along with the bacteria they harbor.

If you already have gum disease, Dr. Faraj may recommend more frequent cleanings, special deep-cleaning techniques, or lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, improved oral hygiene, or a change in your diet. 

Don’t let gum disease take a toll on your heart health. To treat gum disease or learn how you can prevent it, call 248-418-4542 or book an appointment online with Novi Family Dentistry today.

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