You probably know that brushing twice a day, flossing, and regularly seeing your dentist are good oral health habits, but did you know that the health of your mouth can affect the rest of your body? There’s a strong connection between gum disease and many other health problems. Fortunately, with proper dental hygiene, you can help keep your whole body healthy.
Gum Disease and Heart Disease
These two diseases are connected in several ways. First, when your gums are damaged, bacteria resulting from chronic inflammation enter your bloodstream directly through your gums. These bacteria travel to the arteries in your heart, where they settle on existing plaque and form clots.
Another connection is that the chemicals emitted by chronic gum inflammation cause atherosclerosis, or the clogging and hardening of artery walls. This blocks blood flow to the heart and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Bacteria from gum disease can also cause endocarditis, or inflammation of the inner lining of your heart.
Gum Disease and Coronary Artery Disease
Being diagnosed with gum disease nearly doubles your risk of coronary artery disease. Both conditions share several risk factors, including diabetes, smoking, and being overweight. The correlation is so strong that two independent academic journals – the Journal of Periodontology focusing on gum disease and the American Journal of Cardiology addressing heart disease – joined forces and released a consensus statement on the topic in 2009.
Gum Disease and Dementia
The bacteria that form in your mouth when you have gum disease don’t only travel to your heart – they also enter the brain through the bloodstream or nerve channels in your head. Studies suggest that this could increase your chance of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Gum Disease and Respiratory Infections
The connection between gum disease and lung infections may not be apparent until you consider that you inhale much of the bacteria caused by gum disease. The Journal of Periodontology warns that this can lead to pneumonia among other respiratory illnesses.
Gum Disease and Diabetes
These two conditions create a harmful domino effect. If you have gum disease, you’re at risk for heightened blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes or worsen your existing symptoms. Alternately, if you have diabetes, you’re more susceptible to developing gum disease.
If you have both conditions at once, you’re six times more likely to struggle with your blood sugar levels than if you have diabetes alone. Having both ailments also increases your chance of developing kidney disease compared to having diabetes without gum disease. This is why proper dental care is more important than ever if you have diabetes.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Habits to Prevent Gum Disease
The message is clear: taking good care of your gums is about more than just saving your teeth – it’s about keeping your whole body healthy. To discourage gum disease and the problems that often accompany it, remember to:
- Brush your teeth after every meal (or at least morning and night) with fluoride toothpaste.
- Chew sugarless gum after meals if you can’t brush your teeth.
- Floss daily.
- Rinse with fluoride mouthwash after brushing and flossing to kill lingering bacteria.
- Visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and dental checkup.
Let Dr. Evanson Check for Gum Disease
If it’s been awhile since you last saw a dentist, you could be in the early stages of gum disease and not even know it. Schedule an appointment at Evanson DDS in Parker so we can check the status of your teeth and gums and recommend a treatment plan if necessary. To schedule your next dental visit, please contact Evanson DDS at (720) 409-0008.Leave a reply →