Recent studies show that if you have moderate or advanced gum disease, you are more at risk of heart disease than someone with healthy gums. Your oral health can provide doctors with signs of diseases and conditions of the heart.
Oral health and heart disease are linked by the spread of bacteria from your mouth to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. This can lead to diseases such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions like atherosclerosis (blocked arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by bacteria in the mouth. Patients with chronic gum disease such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease are at higher risk for heart disease. Even if you don't have noticeable inflammation of the gums, poor oral hygiene and accumulated plaque put you at risk for gum disease. Bacteria can also migrate into your bloodstream, causing inflammation in the blood vessels. This can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) you could have gum disease, even if it is in its early stages, if:
Your gums bleed when you eat, brush, or floss
Your gums are red, swollen, and sore to the touch.
You see pus or other signs of infections around the gums and teeth.
Your gums seem to be moving away from the teeth.
You often have bad breath or notice a bad taste in your mouth.
Or some of your teeth are loose.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are the best way to protect yourself against the development of gum disease. The CDA (Canadian Dental Association) recommends brushing twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush that fits snugly in your mouth, so that it reaches all dental surfaces properly. You should also floss daily and see your dental hygienist for regular professional cleanings.
By being proactive about your oral health, you can improve your overall health and keep your smile clean and beautiful throughout your life.