What so many people don’t realize, is that the mouth is the gateway to the body. Periodontal disease, the disease of the gums and bone supporting the teeth, affects 80% of American adults over the age of 18 and often times, remains undiagnosed.
Warning signs of periodontal disease (gingivitis) include:
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
- Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Teeth that are loose or separating from each other
Research shows correlations between periodontal disease and many other diseases of the body, but more and more doctors today are focusing on the links between the health of your mouth and your heart. Just like poor oral health is commonplace around the world, so is heart disease. Is this link one hundred percent proven? It is difficult to say, but the data in the research shows a strong link with the health of the mouth as it relates to the function of your heart.
Atherosclerosis is a term that describes the hardening of the arteries of the heart. This condition makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the body. The main cause of atherosclerosis is inflammation or swelling. This inflammation makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood, increasing your risk for heart attack and stroke.
How does this relate to your oral health? Swollen gum tissue, which can often be sore, is caused by inflammation. There are two main types of gum disease, first is gingivitis, which can cause tender gums that are red and painful and periodontitis, which is an infection of the tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. The infection of the tissue and bone in periodontitis, present themselves as deep pockets filled with bacteria around the teeth. Periodontitis is the type of gum disease that allows bacteria and toxins to spread below the gum line and into your blood stream. This is the type that will cause the issues we worry about when we talk about heart disease.