New findings have shown that there is a definite link between oral health and problems in other parts of the body.
Problems which may be caused or made worse by poor dental health include:
- Heart disease
- Lung Disease
In this article we will look specifically at the effect gum disease can have on our hearts. Gum disease is also currently the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the UK. So be sure to make oral hygiene a top priority for a healthy heart and show stopping smile!
Signs of Gum Disease
The main signs of gum disease are:
- Inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Irregular mouth infections
If you notice any of these symptoms you should see your dental team. Everyone will be affected by gum disease at some point in their lives. However if it is effectively treated it should leave no lasting damage. Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque, which provides a breeding ground for bacteria, on the surface of teeth and gums.
If you are smoker you are much more likely to experience gum disease, as smoking has been found to cause higher levels of bacteria in the plaque on your teeth and because of the reduced amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, infected gums will take much longer to heal.
Keeping your heart healthy
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery heart disease as people without gum disease. Bacteria present in the plaque on teeth enter the bloodstream and produce proteins. These proteins cause the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels. If this happens in a great enough quantity it can increase the risk of blood clots forming. Blood clots reduce the normal blood flow affecting the amount of nutrients and oxygen reaching the heart. If this happens in enough quantity it can lead to a heart attack.
The best treatment for gum disease is to ensure that you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day by brushing and by cleaning in between your teeth.
At each check-up the dentist will assess your teeth and gums for any sign of gum disease. They will use probes to measure the amount of gum present around the teeth and may take x-rays to determine if there has been any bone loss in your jaw.
The dentist will remove the plaque and tartar present on your teeth and will refer you to the hygienist for ongoing cleanings. The hygienist will also be able to advise you on the best oral hygiene routine to ensure that you remove plaque effectively at home, through tooth brushing and interdental cleaning.
If left untreated gum disease can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis causes the gums to recede and can lead to the loss of bone which anchors the teeth to the jaw. Over time teeth may become loose and even fall out.
If you would like help and advice to look after your teeth and gums, do not hesitate to contact West Wickham Dental Practice on 0208 776 1188 and book a consultation to find out how we can help you ensure that your heart stays healthy!