The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Problems

Jul 20, 2023 | Blog Posts

The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Problems

You’ve likely heard about the importance of regular brushing and flossing for gum health, but you may not know that these important practices are not solely for your oral health. Gum disease and heart issues are connected, so keeping your gums healthy will directly impact your heart health.

The good news is that there are straightforward ways to prevent gum disease. But to do that, you’ll need to know more about this prevalent condition, what causes it, and how to ensure your gums stay healthy and infection free.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is an infection of the gum tissue, most often caused by poor oral hygiene, which has three different stages — gingivitis, gum disease, and advanced gum disease.

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontitis, and it is most easily identified by gums that bleed easily and gum tissue that is red or swollen. This stage of gum disease is the only one that can be reversed. Once the infection has progressed past gingivitis, it can only be treated and controlled.

Periodontitis can result in receding gums, dental abscesses, loose teeth, and ultimately tooth loss. Advanced gum disease complications have been connected to various health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

Signs of Gum Disease

In the earliest stages, gum disease may not result in many obvious symptoms or even any discomfort. However, in time, you will likely begin to notice the following:

  • Inflamed or red gum tissue
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Receding gum line
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Dental abscesses
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Bone loss

If you notice any of these signs of gum disease, reach out to your dentist and schedule an appointment. While only gingivitis can be reversed, multiple effective treatments for gum disease can relieve discomfort and protect both your oral and overall health.

Causes of Gum Disease

The most common cause of gum disease is plaque buildup on teeth at or below the gum line. Plaque is a sticky film containing saliva, food debris, and bacteria. In time, plaque can harden into tartar, which you cannot remove on your own. You’ll need a dentist or dental hygienist to use special tools designed to gently and carefully scrape this calcified plaque from your teeth and gums.

Avoiding plaque and tartar buildup is simple; brushing and flossing twice daily, maintaining a good diet, and seeing your dentist twice yearly for a professional examination and cleaning will keep you out of trouble.

The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Issues

It may be hard to imagine how an infection in your gums can ultimately affect your overall health, but there is a connection between gum disease and heart issues. Studies show that people with gum disease have a significantly increased risk of heart attack and other serious heart-related complications.1

It is believed that one way this may be caused is by the buildup of bacteria in your gum tissue finding its way through your bloodstream and into your heart, where further infection can occur. Research is continuing in this area.

Treating Gum Disease

Whether you’ve got gingivitis, gum disease, or advanced gum disease, there are ways to treat the issue and work to prevent further complications. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, your dentist may recommend different treatment options.

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is the standard gum disease treatment. Your dentist will use special tools to access deep beneath the gum tissue so they can remove plaque and tartar buildup that you otherwise might not be able to see, let alone remove yourself. They will then work to encourage the gum tissue to reattach itself to the teeth, eliminating pockets where plaque and tartar can continue to build up.

If further treatment is necessary your dentist may refer you to a gum specialist or periodontist to perform a more advanced procedure such as gum grafting.

Gum Graft Procedure

With advanced forms of gum disease, there can be a loss of gum tissue that can lead to various issues, including tooth sensitivity, shifting teeth, and tooth loss. To regain that gum tissue, the periodontist can take healthy tissue from another part of your mouth and graft it into the area where the gum recession has occurred.

Gum Disease Treatment from Albion Family Dental

If you believe you have gum disease or want to ensure you are doing everything possible to prevent it, don’t hesitate to contact Albion Family Dental. We can help treat the condition and protect your oral and overall health. 585-589-9044