Did you know that the health of your teeth can be a predictor of heart disease and diabetes? Research has shown a direct correlation between tooth decay and gum disease and these severe health issues. What does this mean? Perhaps the fact that dental health is even more important than previously thought.
Gum Disease and Diabetes: What do they have in Common?
Why is there a correlation between diabetes and gum disease? Because people who suffer from diabetes have a decreased ability to fight off bacteria, which includes the bacteria in the mouth that causes gum disease. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can help to eliminate more of the bacteria that resides in the mouth.
Conversely, gum disease can negatively impact the body’s ability to control blood glucose levels, meaning the gum disease could be a partial factor for a person developing diabetes. There is definitely a correlation, but it’s difficult to determine which may be the cause and which the effect.
Heart Attack and Stroke: How does Gum Disease Relate?
Gum disease has been linked to heart disease. Why? Gum disease can result in inflammation, which leads to atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque and fat in the arteries) that restricts blood flow to the various parts of the body. This increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke, both of which are predominantly caused by blocked arteries. Research has shown that the more gum disease bacteria that exists in your mouth, the thicker your carotid arteries tend to be, which can lead to stroke.
Another risk factor is that the bacteria present with gum disease can infect the bloodstream. As the bacteria moves through the blood vessels throughout your body it can cause damage. The resulting damage can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Steps to Take to Prevent Gum Disease
With this correlation between gum disease and heart disease and diabetes, you may be wondering what you can do to prevent it. Here are some important steps to take:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily.
- Floss your teeth at least once daily.
- Visit your dentist for cleanings every 6 months.
- Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash and get fluoride treatments when you visit the dentist.
- Follow a healthy diet.
If you have a history of severe gum disease, you may need to take additional steps. Your dentist may recommend the following:
- More frequent visits to your dentist for cleaning and monitoring.
- Use an electric toothbrush or waterpik for a more thorough cleaning.
- Visit a periodontist for more in-depth gum treatments such as scaling or root planing.
Prediction Does Not Mean there is a Direct Cause
It is important to note that although a direct correlation has been discovered, gum disease does not guarantee that you will develop heart disease or diabetes. Preventing gum disease will not necessarily prevent heart disease and diabetes either. There are many other factors that contribute to these health issues, such as diet, lifestyle, and genetics.
Comprehensive Dental Services at One Convenient Location
Get complete dental care from routine cleanings to restorative procedures at The Center for High Tech Dentistry. We use state-of-the-art technology to provide the highest quality diagnostics and methods such as laser dentistry, digital radiography, and computer software. We believe in using approved technology that has been tested to the furthest extent and proven to be safe and effective.
As research continues and confirms the correlation between gum disease and heart disease and diabetes, oral health is proven to be even more significant. Have the condition of your teeth evaluated today. Call (212) 988-8822 to schedule a consultation at The Center for High Tech Dentistry.