Visiting your dentist regularly is the best way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but it can also help protect your heart. Studies have shown that, if you have gum disease, your risk of cardiovascular disease rises. So visiting the dentist regularly is one way to keep your heart healthy.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Over the last several years, doctors have been studying the links between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. There is definitely a correlation between the two—the presence of gum disease is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. What hasn’t been completely established yet is the reason why this correlation exists.
While searching for the answer to this conundrum, researchers discovered that the bacteria found in the mouths of those with gum disease can also be found in other areas of the body. When the bacteria migrates out of the mouth, it can contribute to inflammation elsewhere, and inflammation is an underlying cause of numerous problems, including heart disease. Recent studies have even found bacteria in the brain that normally exists in the mouth, indicating it has migrated through the bloodstream. The discovery has led researchers to look more closely to determine if there might also be a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s.
Why Isn’t At-Home Cleaning Enough?
Diligent at-home care is vital, but regular visits to the dentist are necessary to ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be. There are several reasons for this:
- The dentist can take X-rays of your teeth
- The dentist can more easily find early signs of decay or gum disease
- Professional-strength fluoride treatments help reduce decay
- Professional cleaning helps remove plaque and tartar you might have missed
With access to special tools and knowledge of the earliest symptoms of gum disease, your dentist is an important ally in the quest to maintain your overall health. By diagnosing gum disease in its earliest stages and recommending treatment, your dentist can help protect not only your teeth, but your heart.