Preventing Gum Disease When You’re at Risk for Heart Disease
Gum Disease and Heart Disease
If you are at risk for heart disease or have it already, good oral hygiene is very important. It might seem strange, but gum disease seems to be linked with cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks and strokes.
How can you keep your gums healthy -- and maybe your heart? Get the facts here.
Four out of 5 people in the U.S. have gum disease, or periodontal disease. It's caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth. Gingivitis is a mild form. Periodontitis is more severe; it can damage the bone and cause tooth loss.
Does gum disease cause heart disease? Studies show that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease. Of course, these studies do not prove that periodontal disease is a direct cause of heart disease. It may be that people who don’t take good care of their teeth have poor lifestyle habits in general, which leads to an increased risk of heart disease.
But some experts believe that bacteria from the mouth could get into the blood and contribute to blocked arteries. These bacteria might also trigger inflammation throughout the body. When the arteries swell, they become narrower and prone to clogging.
If you're at risk for heart disease, it’s wise to play it safe. Here’s how:
Recognize the signs of gum problems
What should you watch for?
- Swollen, red, painful, or bleeding gums
- Receding gums -- which will make your teeth look longer than they used to
- Sensitive or loose teeth
- Painful chewing
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
If you have any of these symptoms, don't ignore them. Schedule an appointment with a dentist or periodontist to get them checked out.
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