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Gum disease and Heart Disease

Gum disease and Heart Disease

October is National Dental Hygiene Month. This month, we will discuss the link between gum disease and systemic diseases. You’ve heard time and time again about the importance of brushing and flossing. But did you know that gum disease can lead to heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, preterm labor, low birth weight and still births? Growing body of evidence has indicated that there is a strong association with the above systemic diseases with gum disease

How do oral infections cause systemic disease?

There is early causation level evidence that oral bacteria Treponema Denticola cause Alzheimer’s disease2. Toxins released by oral bacteria Aggregatibacter Actinomycetemcomitans are toxic to arterial walls2.

Researchers also found that pathogenic bacteria that cause periodontal and endodontic disease in the mouth enter the bloodstream, and infect diseased heart valves (endocarditis), attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation or cause chronic inflammation that trigger heart disease, strokes, diabetes and other conditions.

Are you at risk?

Gum disease affects 80% of American adults and often the condition goes undiagnosed.

Warning signs that you may have gum disease include3:

  1. Red, tender or swollen gums
  2. Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  3. Pus between teeth and gums
  4. Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
  5. Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  6. Teeth that are loose or separating from each other
  7. Changes in the way dental appliances fit
Treating gum disease can lead to better health

American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that patients who had periodontal disease treatment had lower medical costs and fewer hospitalizations within four years of the treatment compared with people who weren’t treated4.

The savings were especially striking—74% lower—among pregnant women5. The savings came from avoiding the costs associated with premature births. People with cardiovascular disease and diabetes who had their gum disease treated had health care costs that were 20-40% lower5.

How can you maintain good oral hygiene?
  1. Brush twice daily for at least 2 minutes
  2. Floss every day. If you’re not flossing, you aren’t cleaning 33% of your teeth!
  3. Eat a healthy diet and limit between meal snacks
  4. Replace your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if bristles are frayed
  5. Rinse with mouthwash
  6. Chew sugar-free gum, preferably with xylitol
  7. Schedule regular dental check ups

Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

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