February is American Heart Month. It's a good time to remind ourselves about the connection between oral health and heart health.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, people with chronic gum disease are at higher risk for a heart attack. Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup along and below the gum line. Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.
Warning signs that you may have gum disease include:
• Red, tender or swollen gums
• Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
• Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
• Chronic bad breath ora bad taste in your mouth
• Teeth that are loose or separating from each other
The best way to be proactive in maintaining your overall health is regular brushing and flossing, scheduling regular dental checkups, and getting professional cleanings. If you currently have heart disease, please be sure to tell us about your condition as well as any medications you are taking. We can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation.