Have you ever heard of the mouth-body connection? It means that oral health issues can have a negative impact on the rest of your body. Gum disease is a prime example, as plenty of studies have shown that people with unhealthy gums also tend to have unhealthy hearts, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues such as stroke. Learn more about this surprising connection – and why gum disease treatment in Houston might be more important than you realize.
What Is Gum Disease?
First, it’s important to understand what gum disease is and what causes it in the first place. Poor oral hygiene causes bacteria to build up in your mouth; these bacteria can enter your gums and cause inflammation.
The earliest, mildest stage of a gum infection is called gingivitis; you might notice that your gums have become red and swollen, or you may frequently find blood on your toothbrush and dental floss. Some patients may not realize they have gingivitis, or they might choose to ignore it; unfortunately, this can lead to the development of severe periodontitis. At this point, the bacteria will enter the bloodstream and start damaging the bones and tissues in the mouth – which ultimately leads to tooth loss.
What Does Gum Disease Have To Do With Stroke?
One of the key symptoms of gum disease is inflammation, i.e. swelling of infected tissues. Inflammation in general is connected to the hardening of the arteries (known as atherosclerosis). This increases the chance of cardiovascular problems by making it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. In particular, oral bacteria have been linked to thickened carotid arteries in the neck, which can potentially prevent blood from reaching the brain and cause a stroke.
It has not been 100% established that gum disease directly leads to stroke and other heart problems. In general, people with unhealthy mouths tend to have poor health overall, whether it’s due to bad habits (smoking, poor nutrition, not getting enough exercise) or preexisting conditions (diabetes, heart disease that’s already present). With that said, making sure your gums stay healthy will help the rest of your body healthy.
What Should I Do If I Have Gum Disease?
If you notice the warning signs of gingivitis (or symptoms of more advanced forms of gum disease, such as gum recession and mouth pain), you should see a periodontist in Houston right away; the earlier you seek treatment, the more likely you are to recover without suffering long-term health problems! In some cases, you’ll need to receive periodontal maintenance every three months to help make sure the infection doesn’t return.
Remember: prevention and early treatment are essential for maintaining good health. Keep brushing and flossing every day, and don’t forget your regular dental checkups; these are great ways to protect your gums – and possibly your heart!