When it comes to dentistry and oral health, many people think of only the mouth itself. While dentistry is certainly about keeping teeth healthy and cavity-free, it’s also about caring for your gums and protecting your whole body. At our dental office in Alexandria, we not only focus on treating the mouth, but also understand that what happens in the mouth can affect the rest of the body. This February, in honor of American Heart Month, we want to talk about how poor oral health can increase your risk for heart disease.
Heart Disease Risks You May Not Know About
Everyone knows about the typical things that can increase our risk for heart disease such as a poor diet, smoking, obesity, and even genetics. While those risk factors are absolutely factors that can lead to heart problems, there’s another little-known culprit that many may never even consider — gum disease.
Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Many studies conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) have shown a positive link between gum disease and an increased risk for heart disease. In fact, researchers concluded that those with gum disease are more likely to have a heart attack than those without it. But how does something in the mouth affect the heart?
Bacteria that live up under the gum line and cause gum disease have a direct pathway into the bloodstream. When these bacteria enter our blood supply, they can cause our bodies to increase the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP). When CRP levels are elevated it can cause:
- Blood clots
- Inflamed arteries
- Heart attack
How to Know if You Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease needs to be diagnosed by your dentist in Alexandria. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye out for some early warning signs at home. Some signs of gum disease include:
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Consistently bad breath
- Chronic bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, we recommend scheduling an appointment are our Alexandria dental office as soon as possible so we can check out what’s going on and treat anything that we find quickly.
The best way to protect yourself from gum disease and the heart problems that can come with it is to see your Alexandria dentist regularly. Your dental team will not only remove any bacteria, plaque, and tartar buildup that can increase your chances of developing gum disease if left alone, they’ll also be able to catch any potential problems early when treatment is often easier and more successful.
Protect your heart and schedule an appointment with your dentist today. We’re always welcoming new patients from Alexandria, Old Town, and Del Ray.