American Heart Health Month is celebrated every February and strives to raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease in America, as well as offer tips on how to reduce your risk of heart disease. But why is your dentist in Belle Fourche talking about heart health? Great question. The truth is, one of the lesser-known contributors to heart problems is, in fact, gum disease.
A Closer Look at Gum Disease
More than 50% of Americans 30 or older have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissue usually caused by poor dental hygiene, although it can have other causes. When a proper oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing every day isn’t maintained, and visits to your dentist in Belle Fourche are skipped, your teeth are at risk of developing gum disease. You see, when plaque isn’t removed, it can harden and transform into tartar. This tartar can’t be removed by regular brushing at home and requires a dental hygienist to fully clean it away. But that’s not all. Tartar is packed with bacteria. These bacteria are what can creep up under the gums and cause an infection.
There are four forms of gum disease, progressing in severity the longer it goes untreated. The four forms of gum disease are:
- Slight Periodontal Disease
- Moderate Periodontal Disease
- Advanced Periodontal Disease
Once gum disease progresses to anything else other than gingivitis, it becomes irreversible and you’re put at increased risk for tooth loss, bone loss, and even heart disease. This makes those bi-annual visits to your dentist in Belle Fourche evermore important.
Oral Health & Heart Health
Your mouth doesn’t function as its own entity. In fact, your oral health is linked to many other areas of the body and can affect overall health, such as increasing the risk of diabetic complications and certain cancers. When it comes to heart health, there’s a clear connection between gum disease and heart disease.
If gum disease isn’t treated, the bacteria that caused the infection in the first place continue to multiply and can enter the bloodstream. When this happens, your body responds by producing an excessive amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) which can lead to:
- Inflamed arteries
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
Know The Signs of Gum Disease
The best way to treat gum disease, before it has a chance to affect the heart, is to catch it early. Gum disease can develop and progress rapidly, so it’s important that you look for any signs of gum disease in-between your dental appointments. Some of the most common signs of gum disease are:
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Puffy, tender gums
- Bad breath
- Teeth that feel loose
If you notice any signs of gum disease, call your dentist in Belle Fourche to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later.