You know that it is important to take care of your dental health. Insufficient hygiene can lead to cavities, missing teeth, and a host of additional problems. What you may not know, however, is that good dental care can also protect your heart. Periodontal disease is most associated with bleeding and tooth loss. Nevertheless, multiple studies suggest that there is a strong link between gum disease, heart attack, and stroke. Fortunately, preventive care can often keep gum disease from developing. If you do suffer from the condition, Dr. Gershberg offers treatment to restore your smile and protect your systemic health.
What Is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease is one of the most common chronic health conditions. It is also the leading cause of tooth loss for adults. The disease will develop when bacteria gather in your mouth. At first, they will adhere to your teeth, and the microbes can lead to dental decay. Over time, however, the bacteria will move to your gum tissue, and they can cause even more extensive problems.
In the early stage, gum disease is called gingivitis. This phase is treatable, and symptoms are mild. They could include minor inflammation, redness, and slight bleeding. However, if you do not seek treatment in time, the bacteria will move deeper into your gums, creating pockets in the soft tissues. Eventually, the pockets will expand. Then your gums will pull away from your jawbone and dental roots. This stage is known as periodontitis, and it is chronic. Symptoms can include severe gum inflammation, significant bleeding, bad breath, gum recession, tooth loss, and jawbone recession.
The Periodontal-Cardiovascular Connection
Scientists believe that there is a strong link between periodontal and cardiovascular health. Patients with gum disease also face a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. Untreated gum disease can also increase women’s risk for giving birth to premature or low weight babies.
It may seem implausible that your gums could affect your heart health. Nevertheless, every part of your body works together in an intricate balance. Therefore, any type of disease can affect your overall wellness. Scientists continue to research the connection between your heart and your gums. Some scientists say that there is a direct causal relationship between gum disease and heart disease. These researchers speculate that bacteria from your mouth can enter your blood stream. They then adhere to fat cells and form blood clots. The inflammation can also cause your arteries to constrict.
Other researchers believe that there is not a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Rather, certain factors can increase your risk for both heart and gum disease. Risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and age. However, these scientists still point out that proper dental care can have important diagnostic benefits. A gum disease diagnosis can reveal your increased risk for cardiovascular problems. Then you and your doctor can take appropriate steps to protect your heart health.
Prevent Gum Disease to Protect Your Heart Health
With strong evidence to suggest that periodontal disease can compromise your overall wellness, maintaining healthy gums becomes more important than ever. The best way to promote oral and systemic wellness is to practice regular dental care. Daily brushing and flossing are essential, as are routine visits to the dentist. Not only will these visits allow your hygienist to remove harmful oral bacteria. Dr. Gershberg can also look for early warning signs of gingivitis. Then he can provide appropriate care before it becomes full periodontitis.
Treatment for Existing Periodontal Disease
If Dr. Gershberg diagnoses gingivitis, a thorough dental cleaning will usually be enough to eradicate the harmful bacteria. He may also suggest a specific mouthwash or other product to use at home. In some cases, dietary changes can further protect your smile. For example, you may need to cut back on sugar and starches.
Once the condition becomes full periodontitis, you will require more extensive care. A deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing, is often the most effective solution. During this procedure, Dr. Gershberg or another member of our office team, will carefully remove the bacterial pockets. If needed, we may also apply a topical antibiotic. Your dental professional will also smooth out any rough spots on your tooth roots. These patches can trap bacteria, greatly increasing your risk for a gum disease flare-up. With smoother dental roots, you will have a lower risk for future periodontal – and cardiovascular – problems.
Contact Dr. Gershberg for the Periodontal Care You Need
To protect your smile and long-term health, schedule an appointment at The Art of Dentistry today.