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A Hearty Smile: How Dental Health and Heart Health Are Linked

By William Stofer on April 23, 2016


An older woman smilingDr. William B. Stofer and Jason D. Hemphill have produly helped the people of Warsaw smile with confidence. They offer advanced general dentistry services, always putting their focus on total wellness and beautiful smiles.

Many patients don't realize just how much of a difference a healthy smile can make. With that in mind, let's consider how your dental wellness impacts your general wellness.

Your Dental Health and General Wellness Are Linked

Many people take for granted the fact that the body is interconnected. One kind of health issue can lead to an increased risk of another sort of health problem, for example. Issues with obesity and your blood sugar may increase your risk for vision problems (e.g., glaucoma) or arthritis. What surprises many people it that poor dental health can actually impact your heart.

In this case, our primary concern is with periodontal disease (aka gum disease), which has been linked to cardiovascular health concerns.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease refers to the bacterial infection of the gum tissue. This is caused by the same naturally occurring oral bacteria that is responsible for bad breath and tooth decay.

There are three stages of gum disease (listed from least severe to most severe):

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

In its earliest stages, periodontal disease can cause swollen gums, discoloration of the gums, bleeding gums, and irritated gums. In much later stages as the infection gets more severe, periodontal disease can be linked to gum recession, tooth misalignment, and even tooth loss.

How Periodontal Disease Affects Cardiovascular Health

A number of studies have found that people who suffer from periodontal disease ace an increased risk of suffering from heart disease and stroke.

There are two possible reasons for this connection:

  • The oral bacteria that causes periodontal disease winds up in the bloodstream, causing a build up of arterial plaque
  • The oral bacteria linked to gum disease causes the liver to produce certain kinds of proteins as a response, which results in the inflammation of the blood vessels

Tobacco Products and Their Link to Periodontal Disease

It's also important to note that many people who smoke or use smokeless tobacco also suffer from periodontal disease. This is because smoking increases your risk of infection. Given the link between periodontal disease and heart disease, this is just another compelling reason to quit smoking.

Treatment Options for Periodontal Disease

Treating periodontal disease will typically involve getting the infection under control. This means the use of antiseptic medication, often in rinse form. Antibiotic medications may also be used for severe infections.

As the infection is brought under control, dentists can then focus on repairing the damage done by the gum disease, using gum grafting techniques and other restorative procedures to improve a patient's dental health.

How You Can Prevent Periodontal Disease

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to follow these simple tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day (ideally after every meal)
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day (ideally after every meal)
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Avoid using tobacco products
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for routine checkups and maintenance

Contact Dental Solutions for Advanced Dental Care

To learn more about dental health and how it can impact your general wellness, be sure to contact our cosmetic restorative dentistry center today. Dr. William B. Stofer and Jason D. Hemphill will work closely with you to ensure that you receive excellent dental care.

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