Did you know that your teeth can predict health issues? Recent studies have found that there is a correlation between oral health and conditions like heart disease and diabetes. The reasons why are still up for debate, but there are a few theories. Gum disease and tooth decay are the main oral health issues that are connected to other health problems.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. It is caused by excessive plaque buildup on the teeth. The plaque feeds the bacteria in your mouth which then becomes overpopulated and causes inflammation of the gums that eventually leads to infection. This infection causes bleeding, red, swollen, and inflamed gum tissue. If left untreated it can cause the gums to recede and the teeth to eventually loosen and even fall out.
Gum Disease is Linked to Heart Disease
Multiple studies that have been conducted have led to the following discoveries regarding the link between gum disease and heart disease. This is what is known from current research:
- There is an increased risk of developing heart disease if you have gum disease.
- The risk of bacterial infection in the bloodstream is increased if gum disease is present.
- Bacterial infection in the bloodstream is detrimental to the heart valves, which is an even bigger problem for people with artificial valves.
- There is a link between tooth loss patterns and coronary artery disease.
Further studies are being conducted that may shed some light on the reasons why the link exists between dental health and heart disease. One theory is that the plaque that forms on the teeth, a combination of food residue and bacteria, is the same plaque that is responsible for clogging arteries.
Gum Disease is Linked to Diabetes
In addition to heart disease, gum disease is also linked to diabetes. Researchers are not sure if having diabetes puts you at a greater risk of gum disease, or if gum disease increases your chances of developing diabetes. Here’s what is known:
- There is a strong connection between heart disease and diabetes, that is independent of oral health.
- Evidence has shown that people with diabetes can benefit from periodontal treatment (dental procedures that help to stabilize or prevent gum disease).
Research has shown that high blood sugar can damage blood vessels over time, as well as the nerves that control your heart. Nerve damage in general is a result of diabetes. High blood sugar also leads to higher levels of sugar in the saliva, which increases bacteria growth that can cause gum disease. On the converse, infection, such as gum disease, makes blood sugar levels rise and harder to control.
What Can You Do to Decrease Your Risk?
You may not be able to control your genetics, which is a major risk factor in developing heart disease and diabetes. But you can take control of your oral health. Here’s what you can do to take care of your teeth and gums:
- Brush your teeth. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night before you go to bed to remove plaque from your teeth. After you brush your teeth at night, try to avoid eating anything else until the next day.
- Floss your teeth. Dentists recommend flossing your teeth once a day, either before you brush in the morning or at night. Flossing removes plaque from between your teeth and helps your gum tissue to be more resilient and less susceptible to infection.
- Go to the dentist. The recommended schedule is every 6 months for dental cleanings and exams. This allows your dentist to remove plaque and tartar that your toothbrush misses to prevent decay and gum disease. If gum disease is present, catching it in the early stages makes it possible to treat it before it progresses and causes other health problems.
Prevent Gum Disease and Related Health Conditions With the Help of Blossom Dentistry
Routine dental care is one of the best things you can do for your oral health as well as your overall health and wellness. Visit Blossom Dentistry every 6 months to prevent gum disease and other dental and oral health issues that could lead to more serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Call (202) 922-2900 today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to being an important part of your health and wellness.
If you’re wondering how your teeth can predict heart disease and diabetes, here’s what some medical and dental experts believe.