Like all responsible adults, I take care of my health and monitor my blood pressure for any abnormalities. But, I was shocked the first time I learned my oral health might have an effect on my heart! That’s right, the beating in my chest isn’t just affected by love, but also by my oral health habits.
Evidence is mounting that people with periodontal (gum) disease, a bacterial infection, may be more at risk for heart disease. In fact, gum disease may worsen existing heart conditions.
Bacteria and its by-products from the gum tissues can enter the bloodstream and form small blood clots that may contribute to the clogging of arteries. The inflammation caused by gum disease also may lead to the buildup of fatty deposits inside heart arteries.
Although gum disease is not an independent risk factor for heart disease, there are consistent findings showing an association. The American Academy of Periodontology has concluded that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without gum disease.
Now that you have the facts, here are some preventive measures you can take to protect yourself from heartbreak.
1. Be aware of the following possible warning signs of gum disease:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Persistent bad breath
2. Brush and floss regularly. This could decrease your risk for heart disease.
3. Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly for exams and cleanings.
If you currently have heart disease, it’s important to establish and maintain a healthy mouth through good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. In addition, make sure your dentist knows that you have a heart problem.