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Heart disease. It’s a long been the deadliest disease in the United States, and still manages to kill over 600,000 people in our country every year, according to the CDC. We’ve been grappling with this problem for a long time, and most people are aware of long-standing links of obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise and even smoking to increased risk and the epidemic of heart disease in America. While these links are still true, and still very important factors when looking at the patterns of this illness across the country, another factor is now coming to light within the scientific and medical communities. Chances are, it’s not what you think.
Several studies have come out recently pointing to a very strong link between gum disease and heart disease. While scientists are still working out the exact reasons why, the evidence is so strong that there is no doubt to many that the link between the two is solid. The studies show that almost all patients diagnosed with heart disease also had some stage of gum disease.
What does this mean for the average patient?
Well, we know heart disease is rampant in our society, but gum disease is actually nearly as epidemic as heart disease, and is common among many adult patients. Most patients don’t die from
direct causes of gum disease, so that might be why it’s not seen as such a threat and many patients also avoid going to the dentist, so the disease remains widely under-diagnosed.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by the same underlying factors as tooth decay – a buildup of plaque, bacteria and food particles and an overall lack of hygiene and care. As this buildup continues, the gums become infected by the bacteria and eventually become very inflamed. Treating gum disease is difficult. The process is long and treatment procedures can be painful and unpleasant. Not only does this effect your gums and overall oral health, having all of that bacteria and inflammation in your mouth, but there is a link between gum disease and your overall health.
There are two things you should take away from these findings:
1. Visit your dentist regularly. Part of the problem with heart disease is that it usually does not show symptoms until later on in the disease. The symptoms are usually severe, i.e. a heart attack, and a lack of other indicators makes the disease hard to diagnose if not monitored preemptively. This is also true of other systemic diseases, which begin to show early signs within the mouth, before becoming symptomatic in other parts of the body. Your dentist at [Practice name] really does look out for your overall health, and regular cleanings and oral exams can spot dental problems as well as more serious health concerns.
2. Brush and floss regularly. You knew it was coming! According to the CDC, the United States spends over $100 billion annually on heart disease. That’s a lot of money. How much could we lower these costs as a nation by lowering our cases of heart disease through regular oral hygiene. The only real preventative for gum disease is regular brushing and flossing. Don’t be afraid to ask your hygienist if you need some help with your technique or help finding the right products for you.
Contact us at Buckhead Piedmont Dental in Buckhead now to learn more.