Scientists have confirmed what dentists have known for years: your oral health may play a larger role in your overall wellbeing. Numerous studies have found a direct link between gum disease and heart disease – the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the studies, patients with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease. Shocking, right? Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Here’s why.
When you think about it, your mouth is a portal to the rest of the body. We know that what you eat and drink plays a large role in your overall health, so it makes sense that if you have a chronic infection (gum disease), your body will respond accordingly. Gum disease results when hardened tartar builds up below the gumline, releasing toxins that break down gum and bone tissue. Most people (3 out of 4) have some form of gum disease, and although there’s no cure, it can be controlled.
Here’s how gum disease can affect your heart:
Studies show that bacteria from gum disease can enter your bloodstream through your gums. These bacteria can stick to vessel walls, narrowing passageways and greatly increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Your body’s natural immune response to gum disease – or any infection – is to become inflamed. Because gum disease is a chronic infection, the vessels are inflamed constantly, and this interferes with the blood and its ability to prevent blood clots. Studies show that elevated levels of the inflammatory protein (C-Reactive) can elevate the risk of a heart attack seven and a half times!
So what’s the lesson here? If you’re concerned about heart disease or stroke, then include preventive dental care on your list of things to minimize the risk. Heck, even if you’re not predisposed to heart disease, you should still floss daily to continue living a disease-free lifestyle. If you do have gum disease, visit Dr. Pate for an assessment, non-surgical treatment, and to establish a plan to optimize your oral health for the long-term. Partner with us, and we’ll help you protect your smile – and your heart!