Gum Disease’s Connection to American Heart Month

healthy heart and smileThe effects of gum disease are farther-reaching than some people realize. In varying degrees, the disease affects about 70% of America’s adult population. In its most severe form, gum disease is also the leading cause of adult tooth loss. However, numerous studies have shown that the mechanisms behind gum disease can prove a significant risk factor for many systemic health issues, like heart disease. Since February is American Heart Month, Dr. Maria and Dr. Thanasi Loukas examine the connection between severe gum disease and inflammatory heart conditions that could lead to heart attack and failure.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a chronic infection of the soft tissues that surround and protect your teeth’s roots. When plaque gathers along your teeth and gum line, some of the bacteria it contains release harmful substances, like toxins that cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. One bacterial strain in particular, Porphyromonas gingivalis, has the penchant to incite rampant inflammation, causing your gums to swell and bleed as gum disease develops.

What the Experts Say

Inflammation is a risk factor for some of the most serious health issues, and gum disease has long been the subject of study for its possible connections to systemic wellbeing. Researchers in Boston discovered that chronic P. gingivalis infection accelerates the development and progression of atherosclerosis, a disease involving the arteries. Atherosclerosis describes a hardening of the arteries due to the buildup of arterial plaque (not to be confused with dental plaque). Experts have discovered P. gingivalis bacteria accumulated within arterial plaque buildup, fortifying the connection between gum disease and heart disease.

Protect Your Heart with Good Hygiene

When your gums are diseased and bleeding, the compromised tissues can allow oral bacteria to enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. As P. gingivalis evades your immune system, inflammation can appear in other areas of your body, like your heart. Although the condition is prevalent and highly destructive, gum disease can be prevented or controlled with good hygiene and professional care. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice every day helps control the accumulation of bacteria and plaque. Every six months (or sooner), visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning to ensure that gingivitis isn’t present, or to treat it promptly if it is.

About Your Park Ridge Dentists:

Dr. Maria and Dr. Thanasi Loukas are highly-skilled restorative, cosmetic, and implant dentists serving the Park Ridge and surrounding Chicago communities. To schedule an appointment, call Loukas General Dentistry today at (847) 696-1919.

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