How Brushing and Flossing Helps Your Heart: The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Health

How Brushing and Flossing Helps Your Heart: The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Health

Regular brushing and flossing can protect the health of your heart by protecting the health of your gums. Although the heart and gums might seem like unrelated parts of the body, more and more research has demonstrated that the health of the cardiovascular system and a person’s gums are actually closely correlated.

The presence of periodontal (gum) disease specifically has been shown to increase a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other significant cardiovascular event by as much as three times. Although having heart disease doesn’t always indicate the presence of periodontal disease and vice versa, the research demonstrating a connection between the two simply cannot be ignored:

  • One study which focused on individuals diagnosed with both cardiovascular and periodontal disease found that individuals who received proper treatment for periodontal disease incurred 10% to 40% lower cardiovascular-related medical costs than individuals who did not receive treatment for gum disease.
  • A review of studies performed by the National Institutes of Health concluded that periodontal disease increases an individual’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 20%.
  • Another study found that individuals with periodontal disease were 49% more likely to suffer a heart attack than individuals with healthy gums. The same research also revealed a significantly higher percentage of periodontal disease in patients with cardiovascular disease than in individuals without heart disease (43% compared to 33%).

Medicine does not yet fully understand the nature of the connection between periodontal disease and heart health. Based on existing research, however, taking care of your gums to take care of your heart seems to be sound medical advice.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues and structures surrounding the teeth (gums, periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone). Gum disease occurs when plaque and tartar build up along the gum line and create pockets between the teeth and gums where bacteria grow and thrive.

Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • Swollen and/or tender gums
  • Bright-red gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Bleeding (especially after brushing or flossing)
  • Sensitivity
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss

Dentists always assess gum health during regular dental cleanings and exams, looking for signs of periodontal disease. If, however, you notice any unusual symptoms outside of the dental chair, we recommend scheduling an appointment right away.

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Protecting Your Gums and Heart

The best way to prevent gum disease and its potential systemic risks to the cardiovascular system is by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush and floss at least twice a day and schedule regular dental exams and professional cleanings. If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, there are special treatments available. Our dentists will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for managing periodontal disease to protect the health of both your gums and heart. Our practice offers irrigation, Arestin, & laser gum therapy.

To learn more about periodontal disease and laser gum therapy treatment, click here.

Contact Cardinal Dental to schedule your next dental checkup today.