Maintaining healthy teeth and gums does more than just protect your teeth from needing dental care – did you know that there is a connection between your oral health and cardiovascular disease? Heart disease can have many causes, and gum disease is one of the well-established risk factors for deadly conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems. Dr. Ryan Lepore, dentist in Dunedin, FL, explains this link and the effective gum disease treatments available to help reduce your risk.
How the health of your gums and your heart are linked
The connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease has been the focus of extensive research in the last few decades. Studies have shown that:
- Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, leading to the death of more people each year than cancer
- People with gum disease have a 20 percent or higher risk of heart disease
- The cost of cardiovascular care for people who have adequate gum disease care is 10 to 40 percent lower than people who don’t receive enough oral health care
While the exact reasons why the two conditions are connected has not yet been clearly established, both the American Health Association and the American Dental Association have acknowledged the link. One of the theories about the cause is that the bacteria that proliferate in gum disease enter your bloodstream, where they can then attach to the plaques that have developed in your coronary arteries and contribute to the formation of clots that can restrict healthy blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke. Another possible explanation for the link is that gum disease causes inflammation throughout the body, which also contributes to the buildup of plaque and decreases blood flow in your arteries.
Gum disease treatment
The great news for patients suffering from gum disease is that it is manageable, and cardiovascular disease is one of the only types of chronic medical issues that is reversible. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, Dr. Lepore may recommend one or more of the following treatments to help you get back on the road to health:
- Scaling and root planing – a deep cleaning treatment that removes plaque and tartar from your teeth
- Probiotics – oral supplements that help bolster the good bacteria to counter the disease-causing bacteria
- Perio Protect therapy – custom-made trays that you fill with an antibacterial solution that helps restore and maintain gum health
- Periodontal maintenance cleanings – Maintenance therapy to keep your teeth clean both above and below the gumline
- We can also perform diagnostic testing to determine the extent of your gum disease and risk factors, including salivary diagnostics and genetic testing
If you have heart disease, it is important to talk with Dr. Lepore about your condition prior to any dental treatment, as antibiotics may be necessary to reduce your risk of developing infective endocarditis, an inflammatory condition that affects the lining of the heart.
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