Did you know that your oral health is related to your overall health? Studies have shown that the health of your teeth and gums has a direct correlation to some specific health conditions, namely heart disease and diabetes. These are two of the most common health conditions that affect Americans, and while both can often be treated with success, they still pose a high risk to the patient.
How can your teeth predict heart disease and diabetes? And what does it mean for you personally or those you care about? Here’s what you need to know.
The Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Recent studies have shown that the presence of gum disease, especially if it is in the moderate or advanced stages, puts a person at a greater risk of developing heart disease. What are the reasons for this?
One way that gum disease can lead to heart disease is from the bacteria that cause gum disease. When plaque (a mix of food residue and bacteria) builds up on the teeth and isn’t removed by brushing, flossing, and regular professional dental cleanings, the bacteria can infect the gums. This infection is what causes gum disease, or what is referred to as gingivitis in the early stages. If the infection goes untreated, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel through the body to reach the heart, causing inflammation that leads to gum disease.
Could dental plaque be the same plaque that clogs arteries? This is another theory that scientists have formulated to explain the link between oral health and heart disease. It could also explain why gum disease has been linked to stroke.
The Connection Between Gum Disease and Diabetes
It has also been discovered that there is a strong connection between gum disease and diabetes. One does not necessarily cause the other, but patients with untreated gum disease are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. And the presence of gum disease has been shown to make it more difficult for diabetic patients to stay in control of their blood sugar.
People with diabetes tend to have a higher concentration of sugar in the saliva, which feeds the bacteria in the mouth and causes it to become overpopulated. High levels of bacteria in the mouth can infect the gums, resulting in gum disease.
On the other side, untreated infection (from gum disease) causes blood sugar levels to rise, which makes diabetes more difficult to manage and increases the risk of developing the disease in the first place.
How to Care for Your Teeth to Decrease Your Risk of Health Problems
Here’s what you can do to improve your oral health and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Dentists recommend brushing twice a day; once in the morning and once at night before you go to bed. Brushing away the plaque that builds up on the teeth will decrease your risk of developing gum disease.
- Floss your teeth once a day. Dentists also recommend flossing once a day, either in the morning or at night. Flossing removes the plaque that builds up between the teeth and below the gum line. It also toughens up your gum tissue, making it more resilient to gum disease.
- Go to the dentist for regular cleanings and exams. Dentists recommend that you come to the office every 6 months for professional teeth cleaning and an oral exam. Your dentist will remove any plaque from your teeth that has not been removed by brushing and flossing. A thorough dental examination will also identify any oral issues, such as gum disease, so that it can be treated as soon as possible.
Sachi and Co. Dentistry Can Help You Stay Healthy
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy has a positive effect on your overall health and wellness. A key part of maintaining your oral health is going to the dentist every 6 months. Sachi and Co. Dentistry can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy if you come in for cleanings and exams every 6 months.