Heart Health & Gum Disease: Are They Linked?

senior coupls hug and smile after learning about the link between gum disease and heart health

Even though you go to a dentist for your teeth and a different doctor for the rest of your body, your oral health and overall health are closely linked. If your teeth aren’t well-cared for, you’ll eventually see negative impacts throughout the rest of your body. In recent years, researchers have been investigating a connection between heart health and gum disease. What have they learned?

What Is Gum Disease?

Consistent brushing and flossing is needed to keep bacteria-filled plaque off your teeth, but it’s also essential for your gum health. If that bacteria isn’t cleaned away, your gums become inflamed, causing symptoms like swelling, bleeding, bad breath, and more. This is the first stage of gum disease: gingivitis. It’s pretty easily reversed with regular cleanings and exams, as well as improved oral care at home, but if it isn’t addressed, the disease moves into the next stage: periodontitis. This is more serious and can cause significant damage. It’s actually the most common cause of adult tooth loss.

The Gum Disease-Heart Health Connection

Gum disease is not a fun experience and clearly has significant impacts, but how is it linked to your heart health? Many studies have been done and the results show that people with gum disease tend to have higher rates of cardiovascular issues. In fact, the presence of gum disease makes you 2-3 times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke!

Why? It could be because the inflammation caused by gum disease impacts the heart, or it could be that gum disease aggravates existing heart conditions. There’s also the possibility that associated risk factors, like smoking or an unhealthy diet, are the real players. While there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the connection, researchers can’t deny the fact that gum disease is more common in people who have heart issues than those who don’t. More research is needed to identify exactly what the cause-and-effect is.

Need to Make an Appointment with Dr. Chung?

If you want to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, biannual cleanings and exams are very important. Dr. Chung and the team can catch any problems before they become serious and give you advice on how to best care for your oral health at home. Contact us to make an appointment!

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Reen Chung, DDS

Reen Chung, DDS