Though conclusive results have not yet been documented, studies conducted by cardiologists and periodontists have turned up evidence that strongly suggests a link between oral health and heart health. How is this possible? The most convincing piece of evidence lies in the fact that inflammation is a common issue in both gum and heart disease. The beginning stages of gum disease, Gingivitis, occurs when bacteria overtakes the mouth, causing inflamed gums. Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries, is also an inflammatory process.
Debates continue over how strong the link really is, but experts accept the following as proven fact:
· Gum disease is a risk factor for diseases of the blood vessels and arteries that supply the brain. This can heighten the risk of a stroke involving a blood or oxygen cutoff to the brain.
· Gum disease is a risk factor for coronary artery disease.
· There is a direct link between gum disease and clogged arteries in the legs.
These conclusions were made due largely to studies involving inflammation and bacteria found in correlation to both gum and heart disease. C-reactive protein (CRP), which rises during whole-body inflammation, is found at increased levels in patients with moderate to severe gum disease; CRP levels are also used to assess a patient’s risk of a heart attack. Another link is that the bacteria found in gum disease is also found in blood vessels that are going through atherosclerosis.
So how can you stay healthy? Brushing your teeth twice a day improves your oral health, while regular exercise and a diet low in fats and salts improves your heart health. Visit your dentist and physician at least once a year for a routine cleaning and checkup to monitor your health and note any developing issues. If you do develop gum disease, you can decrease your risk of developing heart problems by eliminating heart-specific risk factors such as smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. Consult your doctor for a personalized recommendation.
Regular dental cleanings can reduce your risk for many health issues. Call Dealey, Renton & Associates at (626) 844-3070 for more information on Los Angeles dental insurance.