You might be surprised to know that your oral health has a direct connection to your heart. Certain oral conditions such as gum disease can increase your risks of heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and diabetes. Dr. K. Ashraf can help educate you on the risks of gum disease and offer treatment to prevent the infection from spreading, causing serious damage to your overall health.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria causes inflammation and infection in the gum tissue. As the infection gets worse, it causes a breakdown of the gums and the underlying tissue. The gums can become inflamed and leave your body vulnerable for bacteria to spread into your bloodstream. There are 3 stages of gum disease, gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis, each progressively more dangerous to your health.
Gingivitis is early stage gum disease, and easily treatable with routine cleanings and a good at-home oral hygiene routine. In this stage, the gums may be slightly inflamed, sensitive and may bleed slightly when brushed or floss.
Periodontitis is the next stage of gum disease and a more serious condition. In this stage, the damage to the gums and bone are irreversible. Your gums will start to form deeper pockets below the gumline trapping plaque and food debris. Proper deep cleanings from the dentist and improving at-home oral care can help prevent further damage.
Advanced periodontitis is the most advanced stage of gum disease. At this stage the gums and bone are no longer able to support teeth. Your teeth may become loose, or fall out, requiring extensive treatment or removal and replacement.
If caught early by our Waterloo dentist, gum disease can be reversible. During biannual cleanings and exams, Dr. Ashraf will be able to spot early warning signs of gingivitis, allowing treatment before it can advance to a more serious stage of gum disease.
The Connection Between Your Oral Health and Your Heart
In 2012 the American Dental Association supported research that stated there is a connection between your oral health and your heart. Findings have shown that those who suffer from gum disease are at a higher risk for heart disease and strokes, even if they are otherwise healthy. As gum disease gets worse it’s becomes easier for bacteria to spread throughout the body, leaving you vulnerable to overall health risks including diabetes and strokes.
While brushing and flossing to prevent gum disease can’t prevent or decrease the risk of heart disease, maintaining or improving your oral health can help protect your overall well-being. Regular checkups with our Waterloo dentist can also help spot any early warning signs of gum disease or other health complications before they become a more serious issue.
Preventing Gum Disease
Preventing gum disease before it has a chance to damage your smile or your health is the best course of treatment. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash daily can help keep your teeth and gums healthy by removing harmful plaque and food debris. However, using a toothbrush with too hard bristles or flossing to aggressively can leave you vulnerable to gum disease by causing gum tissue recession. Dr. K. Ashraf recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles and using a light hand when flossing, as well as rinsing with mouthwash or water particularly after consuming large amounts of sugar or sticky foods.
Additionally, visiting the dentist for regular biannual cleanings is also a necessary part of a healthy oral hygiene routine. During a cleaning, our Waterloo dentist will remove plaque and food debris from places you can’t reach with a toothbrush or floss. Specialized dental tools will be used to gently scrape tartar from the surface of your teeth and around the gumline, preventing build-up from causing gum disease. Dr. Ashraf may also check the pockets around your gums to ensure they are still within a healthy limit, and point out areas of your mouth that may require additional attention.
Preventing Heart Disease
Maintaining good oral health is a great start to preventing heart disease and overall health problems. However, healthy teeth are only one thing you can do to protect yourself from health risks. While maintaining good oral health can be a good sign for good overall health, there are many other contributing factors that can lead to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes or stroke. Preventing heart disease can also mean making healthier lifestyle choices and taking care of your overall well-being. Some ways to prevent heart disease include:
- Stopping smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Managing blood pressure
- Staying active
Contact Dr. Ashraf To Schedule An Appointment Today!
Gum disease can cause more than just damage to your smile, putting your health at risk for serious complications. Dr. K. Ashraf provides professional cleanings and exams to help maintain your overall well-being and treat gum disease before it can progress to a more serious stage. Call us for an appointment today!