The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Most people believe that a little bleeding while brushing their teeth is normal. It is such myths and misconceptions that have resulted in more than 80% of the population with gum disease. Periodontal disease (gum disease) is an infection that causes chronic inflammation of the gums, with one of it’s signs being bleeding while brushing or flossing. Recent studies have found that there is a direct correlation between heart disease and gum disease. The understanding of this relationship and what to do about it is a matter of life and death.

Research describes the affect of gum disease and heart disease at least as strong as the link of heart disease to cholesterol, smoking or body weight. These recent studies have found blood clots escape into the bloodstream, increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke. These same blood clots were found to contain the most common strain of bacteria in dental plaque.

Unfortunately, there are no early warning signs to gum disease, it progresses silently, often without pain. Since there is no pain or discomfort present during the initial stages, people often ignore the signs and symptoms, believing them to be normal occurrences. The disease eventually destroys the gum and supporting bone that holds the teeth in place.

What is alarming is that other health concerns are also being found to relate to gum disease. Bacteria in plaque have also been found to have a link in a weakened immune system that can slow wound healing; higher risk of premature; low birth weight infants; stroke; and lung infection in people with chronic lung diseases.

The mouth is an extremely important organ and is the doorway to the body. Digestion begins here, many diseases, such as diabetes and AIDS show initial signs here, and our confidence in how willing we are to smile, depends on how we feel about the appearance of our teeth. The teeth are made to last a lifetime and even after;, as seen in excavated ancient skulls. It is a myth to think that with age, teeth become loose and are lost. Many factors affect tooth loss: heredity, diet and nutrition, stress, and the health of the gums. We have no control over heredity, but we can counteract any week links in our genes with the other factors.

Numerous studies have established the importance of diet and nutrition, stress management and exercize for a healthy body. The same rules apply to the health of the oral cavity. Fresh food free of chemicals, preservatives and additives are essential for prevention of disease. However, stress can deplete our body of vital nutrients if supplements are not taken to replace those needed vitamins and minerals. Bleeding gums have been associated with defficiency of vitamin C. Calcium and it’s importance for healthy teeth and bone is well documented. During menopause, a woman’s body decreases the production of the hormone estrogen, which helps bones absorb and retain calcium. If calcium supplements are not taken (at least 1200-1500 mg/ day) the first place the needed calcium is taken from is the jaw bone. This may lead to loose teeth.

Proper oral hygiene is the other factor which may counteract any bad genes passed down for gum disease. There are may tools available to take responability towards good daily hygiene. Of course, brushing and flossing are the main part of daily hygiene, however, if deep gum pockets exist, it will be almost impossible to floss those areas. In that case, water irrigators are useful. Proxi-brushes are very small, brushes that resemble pipe cleaners. They are used to clean between exposed roots of back teeth and deep gum pockets.

If the basic rules for a healthy body are practiced daily, with added good oral hygiene, you need never be afraid of going to the dentist or of loosing your teeth.

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Written by Flora Parsa Stay DDS

Explore Wellness in 2021