Posts for tag: gum disease
At this time of year, hearts are everywhere you look, so it's fitting that February is American Heart Month, a time to focus on cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, is the number one cause of death around the world. But did you know that there's a link between the health of your heart and the health of your mouth?
People with advanced gum disease have a higher risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event, but what is the connection? For one, oral bacteria found in gum disease can enter the bloodstream, where it has been found in artery-clogging plaque. In addition, untreated gum disease has been determined to worsen high blood pressure, a major contributor to heart attack, stroke and heart failure. One study reported that when gum disease was treated, high blood pressure fell by up to 13 points. But perhaps the most significant common denominator between gum disease and heart disease is inflammation, according to many researchers.
Gum disease is the most common inflammatory disease, affecting nearly 50% of US adults over 30, and 70% of those aged 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The body's inflammation response is a key weapon in fighting infection. However, when there is chronic low-level inflammation such as occurs with untreated periodontal (gum) disease, many adverse health effects can result. In one Harvard University study, chronic inflammation was found to triple the risk of heart attack and double the risk of stroke.
The relationship between gum disease and heart disease is still not completely understood, but there's no denying that a connection exists between the two, so it's worth doing what you can to take care of both your gums and your cardiovascular health. Here are some tips:
- Eat a heart-healthy—and gum-healthy—diet. A diet low in refined carbohydrates, high in fiber, vitamins C and D, antioxidants and Omega-3s has been shown to lower inflammation, benefitting your gums and your heart.
- Quit smoking. Using tobacco in any form is a risk factor for developing both gum disease and heart disease.
- Take care of your oral health. Gum disease can often be prevented—and reversed if caught early—simply with good oral hygiene, so be diligent about brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day.
- Come in for regular cleanings and checkups. Regular cleanings can help keep your gums healthy, and an examination can determine if you have gum disease. Be sure to tell us about any medical conditions or medications.
As you think about what you can do to take care of your heart health and overall health, don't forget your gums. If you have questions about how to improve your oral health, call us or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall” and “Carbohydrates Linked to Gum Disease.”
Surgical treatment for periodontal (gum) disease can go a long way toward restoring your mouth to good health; however, it does not change your susceptibility to the disease. That’s why we recommend that you come in regularly for periodontal cleanings after your treatment. Here are some frequently asked questions about keeping your mouth healthy after gum disease treatment.
How often do I have to come in for periodontal cleanings?
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer to that question: It really depends on your individual situation. For example, some individuals may have a more aggressive form of periodontal disease that requires more frequent periodontal maintenance (PM) treatments to maintain control. Others may have greater success controlling the buildup of disease-causing plaque with at-home oral hygiene measures, and therefore need PM less often. However, for people with a history of periodontal disease, getting PM treatments at a three-month interval may be a good starting point.
What happens at a periodontal maintenance appointment?
A thorough cleaning of the crown and root surfaces of the teeth, aimed at removing sticky plaque and hardened dental calculus (tartar), is a big part of PM treatments — but there’s much more. You’ll also receive a thorough clinical examination (including oral cancer screening), a review of your medical history, and x-rays or other diagnostic tests if needed. The status of any ongoing periodontal disease will be carefully monitored, as will your success at maintaining good oral hygiene. Decisions about further treatment will be based on the results of this examination.
What else can I do to keep gum disease at bay?
Keeping your oral hygiene in top-notch condition — which includes effective brushing and flossing every day — can go a long way toward controlling gum disease.Â In addition, you can reduce risk factors by quitting tobacco use and eating a more balanced diet. And since inflammatory conditions like diabetes, arthritis and cardiovascular disease can make periodontal disease worse (and vice versa), keeping these conditions under control will greatly benefit both your oral health and your overall health.
How your dentists in Sudbury can help with gum disease
You may think your child is too young to get gum disease, but the truth is anyone can get gum disease, even children. Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is caused by the millions of bacteria that reside in your mouth and when combined with what you eat turn into plaque. If plaque is allowed to remain undisturbed, it can result in gum inflammation and early gum disease. Your dentists at Sudbury Family Dental Care in Sudbury, MA are experts in pediatric dental care and would like to help you and your child prevent gum disease.
There are a few common signs and symptoms of gum disease you can recognize. Your child might have early gum disease if your child has:
- Red, swollen or puffy gum tissue
- Gums that are painful
- Gums that bleed when your child brushes and flosses
- Pain when your child eats or bites down
- Frequent bad breath
The good news is gum disease and its effects are totally reversible if your child begins a regular program of good oral hygiene. Your dentists in Sudbury want you and your child to:
Brush in a circular motion, always using a soft toothbrush. Make sure your child brushes all areas including the teeth, gums and tongue. Brushing should be gentle, but thorough. Your child should brush after eating and before going to sleep.
HINT: A sonic or electric toothbrush is often helpful for children and adults
Floss at least once each day, preferably before bed. You can use either waxed or unwaxed floss, whichever is easier for you and your child.
HINT: Floss picks are often easier for children and adults.
Visit your dentists in Sudbury every 6 months for exams and professional cleanings.
HINT: It’s helpful to schedule your next appointment in advance to help you remember.
When you instill good oral care habits in your children and emphasize the value of regular dental care, your child will carry the importance of dental care into adulthood.
Children can get gum disease, but you don’t have to try and prevent gum disease alone. You can get help by calling your dentists at Sudbury Family Dental Care in Sudbury, MA, experts in pediatric dental care. Call today to schedule your appointment!