It’s well known that you have to brush your teeth to keep gum disease and tooth decay at bay, but the link between heart health and oral health is not common knowledge. In the past few years, there has been a succession of research studies published, linking gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease.
Gum disease and heart health
Studies have shown that people who have gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease and suffer a heart attack or stroke. Researchers believe that the bacteria that cause gum disease can trigger an inflammatory response in other parts of the body, as they are able to travel around in the bloodstream. Some studies have also suggested that bacteria increase the risk of atherosclerosis, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes. Atherosclerosis causes fatty deposits to gather inside the arteries, causing reduced blood flow around the body.
Preventing gum disease
Gum disease is very common, but it is preventable. Good oral hygiene, keeping an eye on your diet and seeing your dentist for frequent check-ups will all help to lower the risk of gum disease. Watching what you eat will also benefit your general health, as many of the foods that are bad for oral health, are also not the best for your heart. Try to avoid consuming a lot of sugary foods and drinks and processed foods and stick to a healthy and balanced diet.
Signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, swelling, tenderness and redness in the gums. If you notice symptoms of gum disease, it’s best to see your dentist.