Gum Disease Can Lead to Heart Disease

Treating Your Gum Disease May Reduce Your Risk

Gum disease is often not taken very seriously by most people. Until it starts getting severe, most people pay very little attention to it. This could possibly be because it has almost no pain associated with it, or because people think a little bleeding of the gums is not serious. The problem that many people do not yet know is that gum disease can easily lead to heart disease – which can be fatal.

Eliminate Gum Disease Early

Gum disease is called gingivitis in the early stages. During this stage, you will likely see red or inflamed gums and bleeding gums when you brush your teeth. In most cases, brushing twice a day and flossing each day will get rid of it. This is the time when it will not cost you to treat it because you can do it yourself.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

For some time doctors have believed that there was a connection between gum disease and heart disease. As time moves forward and more research is conducted, there is now a certainty that the two things are connected.

Although gingivitis is not thought to be a problem by most people, the next stage of gum disease – periodontitis – definitely is a problem. The underlying cause is inflammation.

Some of the bacteria that are normally in your mouth produce acid whenever it comes in contact with sugar. In a healthy mouth, the saliva helps to wash away the bacteria from your gums and teeth. Brushing and flossing also help to protect your teeth.

Increased Risk with Poor Oral Care

When you do not regularly take care of your teeth, the bacteria and acid builds up and irritates the gums. As your gums recede, the bacteria and acid will cause an immune system response to destroy the bacteria as it enters your gums. As it does so, it soon becomes an autoimmune response and your immune system and bacteria attack your gums, the ligaments supporting your teeth, and even the jawbone.

The bacteria and inflammation will enter your bloodstream through your gums at this point. They travel around your body and will often accumulate on the walls of your blood vessels and arteries. Over time, the buildup will narrow them and it can eventually reduce or even cut off the blood supply completely – causing a heart attack or stroke.

Because your mouth is full of bacteria, once the protective gums no longer prevent bacteria from entering – which is what happens when your gums recede and pockets form on them – the bacteria and inflammation can build up anywhere in your body. This means it can cause not only heart disease, but a myriad of other health problems, too, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, several forms of cancer, and more.

The Risk of Heart Disease

People who have periodontal disease have a much greater risk of getting heart disease. Those who have gum disease have their risk of getting a heart attack or stroke increased two or three times.

Researchers believe that when you have gum disease that it will increase your risk of heart disease by 20 percent. They also believe that taking care of gum disease properly will lower your overall costs of treating cardiovascular problems by as much as 40 percent.

It is easy to neglect your teeth because the damage that is being caused by inflammation is nearly invisible. The problem with this way of thinking is that you are risking not only your health but your life by neglecting it.

Getting Periodontal Disease Treatment

In order to protect your heart and your teeth, it is necessary to be evaluated by a dentist. The dentist will measure the depth of the pockets that have formed on your teeth. The stage of periodontitis you have will be determined by the depth of the pockets. The higher the numbers, the greater the stage of periodontitis you have on a level of four stages.

There are several types of treatment that may be involved, and the treatments will depend on the severity of the gum disease. Most likely, one of the treatments will involve scaling and root planing. This treatment involves cleaning out the pockets on the gums of bacteria and inflammation. Some dentists can do this quickly and more thoroughly by using lasers. When deeper pockets are involved, the oral surgeon will likely need to stitch the pockets close to the teeth to keep the bacteria out.

When you reach the stage where teeth are becoming loose and are even possibly falling out, more drastic surgery will be required. At this stage, patients will likely need gum and bone grafts in order to replace missing teeth.

Better Oral Care Is Needed

The connection between gum disease and heart disease is not completely clear at this time. A connection is believed to exist but more research is needed. Taking care of your teeth and gums can enable you to enjoy better health and lower your risk of heart disease.

The condition of your teeth and gums most likely indicates your risk level for cardiovascular disease. If you know that your oral health needs help, and you want to lower your risk of heart disease, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you. He provides gum disease treatment in his dental offices in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.