It may seem that each part of your body is its own little island, separated from everything else, but that’s not the case. For one, there is a network of veins and arteries that run throughout your body like a super highway, transporting blood. That means, then, that if there is a problem in one area, it very well can cause issues in another. Such is the case with gum disease (periodontitis), where if allowed to fester long enough, it can lead to heart problems. This connection will be discussed further as your dentist in Clarksville weighs in with more information.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a condition that is caused by bacteria that have been converted into their more troubling form – plaque – a sticky substance that clings to your teeth and gums. Allowed to continue to grow, this nemesis seeps into the pockets between your teeth and gums and progresses as follows:
- Gingivitis – The only stage of gum disease that is reversible, the symptoms of gingivitis are bleeding, irritated and puffy gums. As a treatment option, your dentist may recommend that you make adjustments to your oral hygiene regimen and may even prescribe a professional strength mouthwash to remove the bacteria.
- Early Stage Periodontitis – At this point, you’ve suffered permanent damage to the fibers and bones that hold the roots of your teeth in place. This may require a deep cleaning procedure to remove bacteria underneath the gum line and smooth the surface of your teeth roots.
- Advanced Periodontitis – More advanced stages of gum disease will result in the roots being dissolved, leaving your teeth dangerously free to fall out. The treatment protocol will be based on the severity of your situation, and in some cases the only option may be to extract the affected teeth.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Your Heart?
Whenever you have an infection in any part of your body, the result is inflammation, which can cause a myriad of other problems. As it pertains to your gums and heart, the blood that flows through your gum tissue also is transported to your cardiovascular area.
Thus, the inflammation caused by advanced gum disease causes plaque to develop in your arteries, the passageways that carry oxygenated blood away from the heart. The build-up of plaque, then, slows down and inhibits this process, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
How to Prevent Periodontitis
The methods for preventing gum disease are fortunately pretty simple, including:
- Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth – When you brush and floss, you are taking an active role in addressing bacteria and plaque by removing them from your teeth, between them and just under the gum line. You are also removing the leftover food particles that these acidic creatures feed on.
- Eating Healthier Foods – Making healthier food choices also encourages oral health, because it denies bacteria one of its most desired sources of sustenance – sugars. Furthermore, naturally occurring foods will contribute to a more stable pH level in your mouth, another scenario bacteria don’t like.
- Visiting Your Dentist – Along with making these lifestyle changes, it’s necessary to work with your local dentist to stave off gum disease by visiting him on a regular basis for tedious oral examinations and cleanings. You’ll leave the office each time more informed about what’s going on in your mouth and assured that there is a plan to address any encroaching danger.
So are you ready to take a bold stand for your oral health? If so, then reach out to your local professional today to schedule your first appointment.
About the Author
With over 35 years of experience practicing dentistry, Dr. Stephen Fisher stays on the cutting edge by providing patients with state-of-the-art equipment for diagnosis and treatment. He practices at Arkansas River Valley Dentistry and can be reached for more information through his website.