Study Shows Poor Oral Health Causes Heart Disease

Get Treatment in Albuquerque, New Mexico

If you have painful, swollen and bleeding gums, you are not alone. In the United States, between 30% to 50% of the adult population has a mild form of gum disease, and about 5 to 15% suffers from a severe form of gum disease (also called periodontitis).

If you have any symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to get treated by a family dentist. Gum disease is an uncomfortable condition that affects your gums, tissue and jawbone. Left untreated, it can also affect your heart. Studies show that there is a gum disease and heart disease link—in other words, if you have severe gum disease, you are more susceptible to heart attacks.

Gum Disease Symptoms

Gum disease begins when dental plaque (calculus) builds up in the crevices of our mouth. Plaque is made up of pathogenic microbes—more than 500 types. These microbes make a home in your mouth, forming a biofilm that causes infections. Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush them
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Inflammation of the tissues surrounding the tooth
  • Gums that recede, making your teeth appear longer
  • Accumulated plaque
  • Bad breath
  • Painful gums

A local family dentist can diagnose and treat gum disease, putting an end to these symptoms. Untreated gum disease leads to dental cavities (caries) and further infection of the gums. In severe cases, the infection can destroy the alveolar jawbone that acts as the foundation for your teeth. Infections left untreated can become systemic, meaning that the infections spread to other parts of the body.

The Gum Disease & Heart Disease Link

When your dentist says that gum disease is systemic, he or she means that is has spread beyond your gums and to other tissues and organs in your body. Studies confirm that the same microbes found in the plaque between your teeth assist in forming the plaque that blocks arteries, called atherosclerotic plaque. Atherosclerotic plaque is responsible for heart disease.

One type of bacteria responsible for gum disease is porphyromonas gingivalis. Outside of your mouth (a systemic infection), porphyromonas gingivalis attracts the cells responsible for blood clotting. This clotting, called thrombosis, leads to blockages responsible for heart attacks and strokes. The infection that begins in the mouth travels through the bloodstream, eventually forming dangerous clots. In fact, one study performed in Iran found that the loss of 10 or more teeth resulted in a more than 250% increase in the risk of a heart attack.

Gum Disease Prevention—How You Can Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease is common, but there are several ways to prevent it. Oral hygiene is key. If you brush your teeth twice per day for two minutes, you are unlikely to get gum disease. Floss every day and use an antibacterial mouth rinse to protect against plaque. Smoking increases the danger of gum disease, causing inflammation and damaging the tissues that hold your teeth in place. If you smoke, ask your dentist for resources that can help you quit.

Albuquerque Family Dentist—Find Out if You Have Gum Disease During a Checkup

Dr. Jeffrey Luffey, DDS, is an Albuquerque family dentist who can diagnose and treat gum disease. During your dental checkup, Dr. Luffey will assess the amount of plaque and tartar present, note any inflammation and bleeding, and check your bone levels. He will take dental x-rays of your mouth, diagnose periodontal disease and provide gum disease treatment.

Gum disease treatment includes a deep dental cleaning called scaling and root planing. Scaling gently removes plaque below the gum line, while root planing sands your teeth to remove rough spots on the teeth and roots that harbor bacteria. If the fear of going to the dentist has kept you from getting the gum disease treatment you need, Dr. Luffey provides sedation dentistry for your comfort.

ABQ Family Dental is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. To schedule your dental cleaning and checkup, call us to schedule an appointment Monday-Thursday: 505-294-4700.

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