As a Seaside emergency dentist, our team at Seaside Family Dentistry understands that your mouth can provide an early warning to a number of serious health problems. From toothaches that potentially signal an infection to persistent dry mouth that could be caused by an autoimmune disease, your mouth can say a lot if you know how to listen. In fact, your mouth may even be able to tell if you’re at risk for heart disease.
Researchers have discovered that individuals with periodontal disease have nearly twice the risk of suffering from heart disease. A recent study found that the potential heart disease risk for patients suffering from periodontal disease may even be bigger than for those with high cholesterol.
For many Americans, the results of this study hit close to home. Over 85 million Americans suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, while more than 200 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of periodontal disease.
Given the connection between these two systemic diseases, your Seaside emergency dentist could be an invaluable resource for determining not just your oral health, but your heart health as well. Considering that 800,000 Americans die annually from cardiovascular disease, regular visits to see Dr. Santos could become a matter of life or death.
Understanding the Connection
To understand how the health of your mouth could impact your heart health, we need to look at the role bacteria plays in inflammation.
Researchers believe that what links the two diseases is a certain type of bacteria. Bacteria found in infected gum tissue around teeth break down the barrier between our gums and the connective tissue underneath, resulting in the development of inflammation. During normal brushing or chewing, this harmful bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the damaged gum tissue and travel to other parts of the circulatory system, contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease.
Inflammation, or swelling, works as the body’s natural response to infection. This makes it possible that as oral bacteria moves throughout the body it triggers a similar response, leading to the formation of plaque in the arteries. Researchers have found plaque in the fatty deposits of individuals with atherosclerosis. These deposits cause a narrowing of the arteries or cause them to break loose and clog completely, leading to stroke or heart attack.
Treating Periodontal Disease
Considering the link between heart health and periodontal disease – not to mention tooth loss and the range of other systemic diseases linked to periodontitis – it’s important that patients receive treatment for their gum disease.
While patients who schedule regular dental exams and cleanings with Dr. Santos will receive frequent screenings for early- (gingivitis) and late-stage gum disease (periodontitis), those who don’t receive dental care need to know the symptoms for periodontal disease.
The American Academy of Periodontology lists the signs of periodontal disease as:
- Tender, swollen, or red gums
- Gums that bleed after brushing or eating hard foods
- Gums the have receded away from the base of teeth
- Separating or loose teeth
- Oral sores
- Persistent bad breath
- An alteration to your bite or the way your teeth fit together
- Dentures that no longer fit
If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Santos immediately. When treated early on, the effects of gum disease are easily reversible. However, allowing the disease to progress not only increases your risk of heart disease, tooth loss, and other systemic health problems, it could also require more expensive treatments to correct.
Avoid needing to see a Seaside emergency dentist, take care of your oral health regularly and healthy teeth and gums are not the only thing you’ll enjoy.