Gum Disease and Heart Disease

How are gum disease and heart disease related? Though there is no certain answer to this question, recent studies show that gum disease may lead to heart disease. So it would be wise to take precautionary measures. Keep a good oral health habit and treat your gum disease in time. Some common symptoms of gum disease include redness, bleeding while brushing, pus on gums, receding of gums and pain when eating or brushing teeth. If you have any of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor to avoid possible heart disease.

How Does Gum Disease Lead to Heart Disease?

The gums are highly vascular and full of bacteria. A slight injury of gum usually can cause the entry of bacteria into the blood stream. From here, the bacteria can be carried to the heart, leading to inflammation of the heart and heart disease. Besides, people who have excess bacteria tend to have a weaker immune system and a weaker inflammatory response, contributing to certain forms of heart disease.

The correlation between gum disease and heart disease has also been explained by the general characteristics of people with gum disease. Such people are more likely to have a bad lifestyle – they smoke, never exercise and don't eat well. This can explain why they are of higher chances to have heart disease. Studies also show that plenty of people with gum disease have diabetes which is another trigger of heart disease.

Watch For These Gum Diseases and Related Conditions

Gum diseases that can result in heart disease include:

1.   Gingivitis

This is a condition that marks the onset of gum disease. It occurs when bacteria are built up between the gum and teeth. The symptoms are redness in the gums, swelling of the gums and bleeding after brushing or flossing teeth. 

2.   Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a more serious gum disease that damages the soft tissue of the gums and destroys the bones supporting the teeth. It can form infected pockets between the gums and teeth.

3.   Pericoronitis

Pericoronitis is one of the links between gum disease and heart disease. It affects the gums around the wisdom teeth. The disease occurs when the wisdom teeth partially erupt through the gums, creating room for bacteria to enter the flaps of the gums. Patients will have painful and swollen gums and sometimes the neck and cheeks will swell too.

4.   Conditions That Can Lead to Gum Disease

  • Cavities are holes in the teeth caused by bacteria. If the cavities go to the extent of irritating the gums, then they might increase the risk that you will develop gum disease.
  • Abscesses and missing teeth can also lead to the development of gum disease.
  • Certain medications cause the mouth to produce less saliva and become dry. Since saliva is necessary for the fighting of bacteria in the mouth, these medications can make people more susceptible to gum diseases. One example is depression medicine.

How to Manage Gum Disease

To avoid the possible heart disease, you need to keep the gum disease under control as early as possible. Try the following methods:

  • Clean your teeth carefully every day. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months.
  • Eat healthily. Eat a healthy diet, ideally high in vitamin C and vitamin A, and low on sugar and starch. Sugar provides food for bacteria in the mouth and therefore increases the risk of developing gum disease.
  • Stop smoking if you do. Tobacco damages the gums and can make you develop gum disease and heart disease.
  • Under the guidance of your dentist, use antiseptic toothpaste and mouthwash. They are not necessary for everyone, but are effective to control bacteria and plaque among some people. 
  • Visit the dentist for checkups and regular cleaning. Professional dental cleaning involves the removal of plaque and tartar from the teeth surface and from the gums. Always remember to let your dentist know your medical history and any drugs you might be taking. 
  • Use antibiotics treatment. Antibiotics can also be used to get rid of bacteria that cause gum disease. One of these antibiotics is chlorhexidine, a drug that is taken as a mouth rinse. 
  • Try the surgical methods. Surgery is only necessary in very severe cases of gum disease. It can be in form of bone grafts, flap surgery, soft tissue grafts, etc.
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