Despite what many Americans believe, your oral health isn’t separate from your body. Though getting a cavity can feel like just another painful inconvenience, what it could be pointing to is something much worse, and gum disease is the perfect example. Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is a set of inflammatory conditions affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. In the early stages, this takes the form of red, puffy gums. Later on, however, it can not only increase your risk of tooth loss, it can significantly increase your chances of developing serious complications, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Stroke
Your mouth is essentially the gateway to your body, and not just down your throat. Your mouth has multiple routes into the body, including the nearly 8 billion oral bacteria that can be present within your mouth at any given time. Oral bacteria can be inhaled, swallowed, and can even be linked to pneumonia, and unhealthy gut bacteria.
The most serious highway from mouth to body is the blood. Bacteria can enter through bleeding, infected gums and travel directly to the heart. Though they could infect the heart, they generally cling to the walls of your arteries. Living oral bacteria are a common component of aterial plaque, which new research suggests could be the link between advanced gum disease, heart attack, and stroke. When this arterial plaque breaks off, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
New research indicating that much of the fat that collects in the arteries can also be produced by oral bacteria is part of a study that followed patients around for nearly 15 years. Including nearly 7000 people with teeth and no history of stroke, the patients were assessed for gum disease and broken into classes based on how severe their gum disease was.
The study showed that those with healthy gums had about a 1 percent chance of stroke per 1000 patients, while those with severe gum disease experienced a 5 percent chance of stroke.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly to Reduce Your Risk
The study also looked at how much going to the dentist could control stroke risk by dividing up the study population into two categories: those who regularly visited their dentist, and those who only saw their dentist when they had a problem. What the study found, was that those who went to their dentist for preventative care had a 23 percent lower stroke risk that those who seldom went.
Seeing your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning, as is recommended by the American Dental Association, can help you to avoid gum disease, cavities, or other problems, as well as start treatment before complications arise. Gum disease doesn’t happen overnight. Usually it takes six months or a year to develop into advanced gum disease, which can also start the process of permanent tooth loss. Regularly seeing your dentist can ensure you get the treatment you need, when you need it.
If you are looking for a dentist in Valdosta, GA who can help you maintain your oral health as you get older, please call (229) 242-5511 today for an appointment with Dr. Nelson Clements.