You may be surprised to learn that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. But did you know that people with gum disease also have nearly double the chance of developing heart disease? That puts the importance of flossing each day in a whole new perspective! Since February is American Heart Month, it’s a perfect time to learn more about the connection between your gums and your heart and how a dentist in Cherry Hill can help you improve the health of both!
How Are Your Gums Related to Your Heart?
Since healthcare and dental care are often considered separate, many people think of their mouth as being separate from their body. The truth, however, is that everything is connected.
In fact, researchers have found overwhelming evidence in recent years that inflammation of the gums (also called gum or periodontal disease) increases the risk of heart problems.
Studies are still being done to learn more about this connection, but it’s thought that bacteria is largely to blame.
Plaque and tartar, which are mainly made of bacteria, hide under the gumline where they’re hard to remove. This bacteria infects the gum tissue and leads to inflammation and gum disease. Symptoms include gums that are bleeding, tender, or swollen, chronic bad breath, and (in advanced stages) loose teeth or even tooth loss.
Also, this bacteria easily enter the bloodstream through the gums and travel throughout the entirebody, including the heart. Once there, they cause inflammation and plaque to form, which hardens and narrows the arteries.
How Can You Improve Your Gum Health?
The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to keep your gums healthy:
- Maintain good oral hygiene – Keeping your teeth and gums clean is absolutely crucial, especially for patients who have gum disease. Brush 2-3 times a day (an electric toothbrush is helpful) and floss daily. An oral irrigator is also great for flushing out bacteria from under the gums where even floss has a hard time reaching. If you notice any bleeding, that’s a sign to spend extra time in that area keeping it clean.
- See your dentist regularly – Checkups and cleanings are necessary so your dentist can monitor your gums and remove the plaque and tartar under your gumline. If you have gum disease, they can recommend various types of gum therapy to manage it.
- Work as a team – You and your dentist are a team with a common goal: maintaining your smile and overall health. Although later stages of gum disease can’t be cured, following your dentist’s recommendations will keep it from progressing.
The consequences of gum disease are serious. But, with intervention and treatment, they can be prevented!
About the Author
Dr. Jodi B. Meadvin is a general, cosmetic and restorative dentist in Cherry Hill and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. She and her staff are committed to providing comprehensive dental care, which includes educating their patients about the importance of their gum health. If you have any other questions about your gums, she can be reached via her website.