Why Gum Disease May Also Predict Serious Heart Problems
Researchers, doctors, and dentists have known for some time that there is a connection between gum disease and heart disease. The exact connection is unknown, but it is believed that the inflammation from gum disease is the cause. Periodontal disease and heart disease often go together.
Inflammation has been shown to be a common factor in both periodontitis and in heart disease. There are also many other diseases that are in some way connected to or caused by inflammation. The list continues to get longer, but some of them include cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, ED, premature births, and many more.
A different kind of plaque builds up in your arteries, but it is also believed to be caused by inflammation. This plaque consists of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances. As it builds up in your veins, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke – both of which can be fatal.
The Risk Factor
People with gum disease have been found to have a 20 percent higher risk of heart disease. It was also discovered that when people received good care for their gum disease that it lowered their overall cost of heart care by 10 to 40 percent.
The Start of Gum Disease
Gum disease starts out as gingivitis. This usually gets started because bacteria that are normally in the mouth get into the gums. This usually does not occur in a healthy mouth, but in one where the person is not careful in keeping their teeth clean.
Plaque, that sticky film that forms on the teeth, is bacteria that produce toxins. It irritates the gums. This is gingivitis. The symptoms that you have at this early stage of gum disease are gums that bleed when you brush or floss them and they are also red and inflamed. Brushing twice a day and flossing will usually eliminate the disease at this stage.
If plaque is not regularly and frequently removed, it will turn into tartar. The bacteria that cause gum disease love to hide in the tartar and they build colonies in it. Tartar is hardened plaque that cannot be removed by a toothbrush or with floss.
Because the tartar extends below the gum line, it gives the harmful bacteria access to your gums. As the bacteria get into the gums, an immune reaction is started. This reaction soon starts attacking the tissues around your teeth and your jawbone.
Gum Disease Symptoms
The connection between gum disease and coronary heart disease reveals that treating gum disease will also lower your risk of heart disease. Of course, the sooner you start treatment – the better. Gum disease, including periodontitis, is often painless until you get advanced gum disease. The following symptoms come with periodontitis:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red and swollen gums
- Gums that are receding from your teeth
- Pus at the gum line
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing.
The Prevalence of Gum Disease
According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one cause of death among both men and women, with 610,000 people dying from it every year. When you also consider that the CDC says that nearly half of all adult Americans over 30 have periodontitis, the severity of the situation can be realized.
Treating gum disease, particularly periodontitis, can be a life-saving move. Unfortunately, once it becomes periodontitis and the bacteria get below the gum line, you cannot get rid of it yourself. You will need the help of a dentist. Depending on the severity of the disease, you may need non-surgical or surgical treatments. The longer you wait, the worse it becomes.
Other statistics, reported by CNN, revealed that women who are older and have gum disease have a 12 percent higher risk of premature death – from any cause. If there has been a loss of natural teeth, there is a 17 percent higher risk of premature death.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
If you already have heart disease, you are apt to have several symptoms. They may include:
- Chest pain – angina
- Shortness of breath
- Arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat
- Unexpected fatigue
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Sudden confusion
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Pain in the neck, throat, jaw, back or upper abdomen.
Seeing a periodontist soon can enable you to have the gum disease removed. A periodontist is a specialist who treats gum disease and restores the bone, gums, and teeth that were lost by the gum disease. Hopefully, you will seek treatment before it advances that far.
Gum disease continues to be the major cause of tooth loss in adults in America. You may be able to avoid this and keep your smile if you get gum disease treatment in time. It will also lower your risk of heart disease and many other potential health problems. Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, MS, MBA, FDSRCS, a Board Certified Periodontist, provides periodontal disease treatment and gum recession treatment in his Carrollton, Cedar hill, Mockingbird/SMU , and Grapevine, TX offices. Nearly all dental health insurance plans are accepted. For a Free dental consultation or information about periodontal disease treatment, you can contact his ToothHQ office today at 214-731-0123