There’s a Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Attacks

portrait of a smiling coupleYou may think you can skate through life with lax oral hygiene habits for a while, but be careful. Your oral health is closely tied to your overall wellbeing — and letting the former slide can have a big impact on your cardiovascular health, especially. There is a growing mountain of evidence linking gum disease with an increased risk of heart attack and other serious heart problems. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between the two, as well as how you can protect your smile AND your overall health at the same time.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gum disease is incredibly common, with estimates saying over half of adults over the age of 35 have the condition to some extent. Visiting your dentist regularly can help to ensure that gum disease is detected early  — but keeping an eye out for the symptoms can help you get the treatment you need from a periodontist sooner rather than later.

You may have gum disease if you experience the following warning signs:

  • Bleeding gums, especially after brushing and flossing
  • Red, tender gums
  • Gum recession (gums pulling away from where they should be against the teeth)
  • Chronic bad breath which comes back soon after brushing
  • A bad taste in the mouth

The Link between Oral Health and the Cardiovascular System

Your gums are the gateway to the rest of your body, and what goes on here can easily affect or be affected by your overall health. While gum disease is thought to be connected to a number of health conditions, research shows that the link between the gums and the heart is especially significant. In fact, according to a study out of Harvard Medical School, people with gum disease are 2 to 3 times more likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, or another unexpected cardiovascular event. The connection is thought to be due to inflammation — its presence anywhere in the body increases the risk that it will develop elsewhere. Inflammation caused by gum disease then raises the risk of inflammatory heart conditions.

Oral Hygiene for Healthy Gums

Taking care of your smile involves routine brushing, thorough flossing, and regular visits to your dentist’s office. The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day (though after each meal is better for patients who are at a higher risk of gum disease). Teeth should be flossed daily. Visits to the dentist are recommended every six months at least.

Meet the Periodontist

Dr. Alexander Schrott is the periodontist Belmont and the Greater Boston area trusts for services ranging from gum disease treatment to dental implant placement and everything in between. If you are experiencing the warning signs of gum disease or know you need treatment for this condition, do not hesitate to get in touch with Dr. Schrott by calling 617-870-0460.