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February is not only American Heart Month, it’s also National Children’s Dental Health month. It’s more than a coincidence, since the link between good oral health and good heart health goes back years. Doctors continue to study the connection between gum disease and heart disease, and the reason why a gum disease treatment may not only be good for your teeth, but it may protect your heart, too.
There have been a number of studies looking into the link between bleeding gums and heart disease. Research suggests people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. The risk may be even greater than for those with high cholesterol.
So, let’s take a closer look at the connection and find out how a gum disease treatment may also protect your heart.
Researchers think the link between gum disease and heart disease is bacteria. They believe the same bacteria is responsible for both. That’s because if you have gum disease, your gums pull away from the teeth and create pockets that can become infected.
The bacteria gets into the bloodstream through the infected gum tissue and sticks to fatty plaques along blood vessel walls. This triggers an inflammatory response which causes the vessel to swell and reduce blood flow, causing your heart to work harder.
It’s important to remember that what researchers have found so far is an association—not causation. Meaning there is a connection, researchers just aren’t sure how strong. Recommending a gum disease treatment solely for the purpose of heart disease prevention is not warranted based on current scientific evidence.
But what is known is that not taking care of your teeth can lead to other health issues, and possibly early death. Gum disease has also been tied to conditions like:
While there’s no scientific evidence of a direct connection, numerous studies show people who have gum disease are more likely to develop these conditions.
Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation called gingivitis, to a severe condition that damages your soft tissue and bone, which can cause tooth loss. That’s why regular dental checkups are recommended. But if you notice your gums are bleeding, talk to your dentist, or even your doctor, about a gum disease treatment.
It’s no secret you should be taking care of your teeth. The potential link between gum disease and heart disease is just another reason.
If you’re looking for some additional heart disease facts, or ways to protect yourself from heart disease, download our guide “Heart Disease Facts That Can Change Your Life.”