There is an association between bad gums and heart disease.
From the time we were very young, we have heard that flossing and brushing our teeth every day was important if we wanted healthy gums and fewer problems with tooth decay.
Is it possible that healthy gums may also be associated with a lower risk of heart problems, including a heart attack?
For more than 100 years, doctors have been talking about the fact that our oral health is linked to the health of our heart. In more recent years, however, those doctors have begun to look closer at dental care and have begun recommending caring for oral health in order to reduce heart disease risks.
Gingivitis is the very beginning of the disease and it causes the gums to become swollen and red and when you brush your teeth, they are more likely to bleed. When dental plaque is permitted to build up in the area where the teeth meet the gums, gingivitis occurs.
If you want to maintain a strong general health, then strong teeth in good condition are imperative.
Gingivitis should be treated professionally but when it isn’t, the bacteria can begin to collect in pockets that exist between the gum and the teeth and it leads to a more serious issue known as periodontitis. When periodontitis occurs, the tooth structure at the gum begins to weaken and it can lead to additional information. The teeth can become so loose that they actually fall out.
Gum disease does not always cause painful and noticeable symptoms so many people don’t recognise that they have a problem until it is advanced. According to Ivan Darby, a professor of periodontics from the University of Melbourne, the issues with periodontitis happen quickly. Teeth get loose, abscesses recur more frequently and the teeth start to move when the issues are advanced.
How is this associated with your heart?
Many people who are at a greater risk for gingivitis and periodontitis live lifestyles that could put them at risk of heart disease. This includes excessive alcohol drinking, smoking and eating a poor diet.
It goes beyond those factors, however, and if you have one issue, the other problem is not typically far behind.
According to a cardiovascular health expert and associate professor at the University of Sydney, people with gum disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
What’s on your mind?
Is it possible to wake a sleepwalker? What makes a person grind their teeth and how do they stop doing it? If a serious health question has been plaguing you, it is likely you’ve also wanted to know the answer.
The real question is, is it a causal link or is it a link that is clearly defined?
Doctors feel that gum disease is associated with heart problems due to 2 mechanisms.
The first issue is what happens when your gums experience inflammation. This is a natural occurrence associated with the immune system and the inflammatory molecules that are causing redness and swelling in the gums may also travel elsewhere in the body. They may cause the arteries to become inflamed and that could result in fatty acid deposits that line the walls of the arteries.
The second issue is associated with the bacteria that could lead to gum disease. The bacteria may have access to the bloodstream when gums bleed. It could facilitate the fatty plaques lining the arteries near the heart, leading to a problem with heart disease.
According to Professor Darby, a link may exist but there may only be a small incident of heart disease being caused by gum disease.
That being said, there are many different factors that could lead to heart disease. Gum disease is certainly on the list but it is probably not the primary factor in most people.
Why is it still a mystery?
It is difficult to say if gum disease directly causes heart disease due to the fact that a link is almost impossible to establish. There may be an association between the two, but it can’t truly be said if one always affects the other.
In order to see if there is that direct link, two groups of people would need to be monitored. One group would have gum disease and the other would have healthy gums. The group that did not have gum disease would need to allow the disease to develop to see if it increased the risk of heart disease.
Professor Darby agrees that if somebody has a disease, it needs to be treated. He says that it’s just “one of those things that’s going to be very hard to prove.”
You can prevent gum disease
You can reduce the risk of gum disease by maintaining proper oral hygiene. According to Professor Darby, genetic factors may also be associated with how oral health affects your heart health.
Bexley Dental states, “To avoid plaque build up it is important to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums at least twice a day. Remember, each tooth has five surfaces – a front, a back, two sides and a top. The only one sure way to prevent dental disease is to clean every surface”.