Did you know that 80% of Americans are affected by gum disease at some point in their lives? Gum disease is an infection and inflammation of the gums that can cause serious damage to your mouth and even tooth loss. While dentists have known about the perils of gum disease for decades, new research shows a connection between this oral health issue and your heart. Keep reading to learn more about the link between gum disease and the health of your heart from an expert dentist.
What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Because the earliest stage of gum disease is completely reversible, contact your dentist right away if you notice any of these common signs and symptoms:
- Red or puffy gums
- Tender or sensitive gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Teeth that appear longer
- Persistent bad breath
- Changes in your bite
If these symptoms are caught early enough, you can prevent yourself from permanently losing gum tissue, bone structure, and teeth. However, if your disease persists, you may be at risk for even more serious issues than tooth loss.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Your Heart
Studies are continuing to pile up that link gum disease with more serious overall health issues. Specifically, gum disease can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and related issues by 20%. This relationship has to do with the inflammation that gum disease causes, which can eventually narrow important arteries that help your heart function properly. Additionally, studies have shown that those with gum disease have a 10 to 40% higher cost of healthcare for heart issues compared to those without. Gum disease can also increase your chances of stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and Alzheimer’s.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Thankfully, all of these problems can be avoided. Use these tips from your dentist to keep your gums as healthy as possible:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. This is your best defense against gum disease-causing plaque and bacteria.
- Rinse your mouth out daily with antibacterial, nonalcoholic mouthwash. This will remove any lingering bacteria after your brushing and flossing routine.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for routine checkups and cleanings. They will examine your gums and provide treatment if necessary.
- Quit smoking or the use of tobacco as this bad habit is a major risk of gum disease.
Now that you know more about gum disease and the serious impact it can have on your health, use these prevention tips and watch out for the symptoms to keep yourself as healthy as possible.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Megan A. Shelton takes extreme pride in the quality care that she provides to her patients in Carlsbad. She understands the risks of gum disease, which is why she wants you to know the importance of good oral healthcare. She currently practices at Polished General Dentistry, and she can be contacted through her website or by phone at (760) 434-9800 for any questions.