Denver, CO – Periodontal disease affects much more than just your mouth. Did you know that gum disease can actually increase your risk of developing heart disease? It’s true – taking care of your mouth can actually save your life.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, patients suffering from periodontal disease are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease. Additionally, gum disease has been linked to higher cholesterol levels, too.
It may sound crazy to think that a condition that affects your mouth could actually be harming your heart, but study after study confirms it.
One study found that patients with higher levels of disease-causing bacteria in their mouths were more likely to also have atherosclerosis of the carotid artery. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries that can occur when substances begin to stick to the artery. Clogs in the arteries can lead to stroke or heart attack, depending on which artery is clogged.
While the exact link between heart disease and gum disease isn’t agreed upon by researchers just yet, one thing is clear – the link is there. Experts know that bacteria can enter into the bloodstream through a patient’s gums, and can then travel through and clog arteries. Some believe that these bacteria stick to the fatty plaques found in the bloodstream.
One of your body’s natural defense mechanisms to fight infection is inflammation or swelling. Patients who suffer from periodontal disease often have red and swollen gums. This leads many to believe that the same thing might happen when this oral bacteria enter the bloodstream – they cause the blood cells to swell, therefore narrowing the artery and increasing the risk of a clot forming.
It’s important to maintain regular visits with your Denver periodontist because periodontal disease could be an early indication of cardiovascular disease. The symptoms of heart disease can’t be seen, but those of periodontal disease can. If you notice bleeding, swelling or painful gums, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist or periodontist as soon as possible.
Catching periodontal disease before it becomes serious may also allow you to prevent heart disease. Many experts believe that antibiotics used to treat oral infections might also be able to lower your risk of heart disease.
If you have other risk factors that might contribute to heart disease, it is especially important to maintain your oral health as gum disease could compound your risks. Additional risk factors for heart disease include:
- Being overweight
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Other conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
Maintaining a regular brushing and flossing regimen is the first step in avoiding gum disease. For patients who may show signs, periodontal disease is fairly easy to treat, and getting it under control may actually save your life. If it has been a while since you’ve visited a periodontist, schedule an appointment today.
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