Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in America today. When most people think about ways to combat it, they think of diet and exercise. However, professional teeth cleaning such as that performed by your dentist during routine dental exams can also reduce your risk.
The Connection Between Gum Health and Heart Disease
Though doctors aren’t completely sure about the causes of the connection, numerous studies have shown that periodontal disease can increase the overall risk of heart disease. Cardiovascular problems are often linked to systemic inflammation. When the causes of inflammation are examined more closely, studies have found bacteria that is linked to gum disease in other parts of the body, apparently contributing to the root causes of heart disease.
Similar findings have shown a link between dental health and risk of Alzheimer’s, also a disease that seems to be related to abnormal inflammation. Visiting the dentist on a regular basis, then, is important to more than just the condition of your smile.
Preventing Gum Disease
In addition to regular dental visits that include thorough professional teeth cleaning, you can take other steps to prevent gum disease from taking hold in your mouth. The main defense is regular dental care, including brushing and flossing. It’s also important to be aware of conditions that can increase your risk of developing gum disease. These include:
- Dry mouth
- Genetic factors
If any of these situations applies to you, you should take additional precautions to avoid developing gingivitis or advanced gum disease. Your dentist or doctor can help control the underlying condition, such as diabetes or dry mouth, by prescribing medications. Over-the-counter treatments for dry mouth are also helpful. If you are pregnant or know you have a family predisposition to gum disease, your dentist might recommend special toothpaste or mouthwash to reduce the bacteria in your mouth that leads to inflammation. If you are a smoker, cessation is the best thing you can do for both your oral and overall health.
Contact our office today to schedule your next cleaning!