February is that time of year when everyone is thinking about their heart… because of Valentine’s Day! However, in addition to this romantic holiday, February is also home to American Heart Month – an effort to raise awareness on the importance of cardiovascular health. You may know lots of ways to keep your heart in tip-top shape, but did you know that your gums can affect it’s health? Read on to learn about the surprising connection between the health of your gums and heart.
How Can Your Gums Affect Your Heart?
Recent research (that is continuing to develop) shows a relationship between gum disease and the health of your heart. Gum disease is a common dental issue that affects about half of the current US population. It’s usually caused by poor oral healthcare, leading to plaque buildup that irritates the gums. Early on, it’s symptoms can be easily reversed. However, if left untreated, gum disease can lead to permanent gum tissue damage, jawbone deterioration and even tooth loss.
Unfortunately, the risks of untreated gum disease don’t stop with your mouth. Studies show that this common dental issue can increase your chances of being affected by heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular problems by up to 20%. This is because the bacteria that inflames your gums can get into your bloodstream, causing your arteries to narrow. The inflammation makes it more difficult for blood to travel to the heart, leading to a higher risk of heart-related issues.
How Do You Know if You Have Gum Disease?
The first step toward getting the right treatment is being able to recognize when you’re affected. Gum disease can often have more discreet symptoms, but you can still be on the lookout for these common warning signs:
- Bleeding or sensitive gums
- Puffy or tender gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Teeth that appear longer
Gum Disease Prevention
Thankfully, the oral and overall health risks that come with gum disease can be completely avoided if you know a few important steps:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session, paying close attention to your gumline.
- Floss once a day to remove lingering food debris and plaque from in between your teeth.
- Use a nonalcoholic, ADA-approved mouthwash after brushing.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for routine checkups and cleanings, allowing a professional to catch any signs of gum disease early on.
- Avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits like routinely smoking or excessively using alcohol.
Who knew the health of your heart started with your smile? Just remember these tips for maintaining your gums to stay healthy for February and years to come!
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Rashpal Deol is a highly trained dentist who offers various options for gum disease treatment to improve your oral and overall health. He also provides thorough examinations during checkups to catch early signs of gum disease for his patients in San Ramon. If you have any questions, he can be contacted through his website or by phone at (925) 735-6190.