Dr. Stephen A. Price


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Gum Disease Can Harm Your Heart: Is it True?

By: | Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Gum Disease

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

Gum disease may be one of the most prevalent dental problems adults face, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows just how much they need to work on preventing inflammation and infection in their mouth. Statistics indicate that approximately 70% of tooth loss in adulthood is related to gum disease. More startling than that, even more adults (about 80%) have gum disease and don’t know it. If you’re wondering, gums that bleed when you brush and floss indicate inflammation. If your gums are puffy and red, bleed, and you have persistent bad breath, you can now count yourself as part of the 20% who are aware of their gum disease.

Knowing about gum disease is not enough. It is also necessary to understand why gum disease is a big deal and why we want to prevent it or treat it right away. One of the common theories is that gum disease is bad for the heart. Here, we dive into this concept to increase the awareness that all adults need to have.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, gingivitis, and periodontitis or periodontal disease are all sides of the same coin. Each is a variation of inflammation and infection that affects the soft tissue that holds teeth in place. The progressive deterioration of the gums begins with an invisible film we call plaque. At first, plaque is soft. In time, it hardens as tartar against enamel. Both plaque and tartar are filled with bacteria. The microorganisms that live in the biofilm emit toxins that degrade both teeth and gum tissue. Weakened gum tissue pulls away from the teeth and allows bacteria to hide beneath the gum line, where extensive damage may be done.

What does This Have to Do with the Heart?

You may have heard the term “hardening of the arteries.” The condition doctors call atherosclerosis is a contributing factor to hypertension, stroke, and heart attack. It is also related to plaque. Atherosclerosis begins when sticky deposits of fat, cholesterol, and other debris become stuck in parts of various veins. The veins then become narrow and less capable of delivering oxygenated blood through the body. Studies have found that the plaque that forms in the blood vessels and arteries contains the same bacteria that are present in inflamed and infected gums. Scientists believe that these microorganisms naturally travel from the mouth into the bloodstream, where they then stick to the walls of important vessels.

Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment

The good news about gum disease is that it is one of the easiest disease processes to prevent and treat. You can start today by flossing your teeth. This habit should continue daily along with brushing teeth morning and night. If you notice redness or puffiness in your gums, schedule a visit with your Burke dentist. A thorough dental exam allows us to identify areas of inflammation and potential infection. We can measure the depth of pockets around teeth, if they exist, and discuss how to close them with proper treatment and home care.

Protect your gums, protect your heart. Schedule your visit with Dr. Price at (703)-935-2879.



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