Gum disease affects your heart? Here’s what a Santa Monica dentist thinks you should know
Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, reveal that a staggering one out of every two American adults over 30 years of age has some form of gum disease. Left untreated, this chronic and inflammatory infection may also affect your cardiovascular health. Here’s what you need to know.
How can a gum infection affect my heart?
If bleeding gums are currently your only issue, it may not yet be a problem for you. Unfortunately, this is one of the early signs of gingivitis that many patients choose to ignore. As the infection continues to grow, so does your risk of additional consequences to your health. You are most vulnerable when your inflamed and swollen gums progress to an advanced stage of infection, called periodontal disease. At this point, the bacteria that is hiding in your mouth becomes an ideal gateway for spreading infection to the rest of your body.
How does this happen?
According to current research, there are three ways that an infection in your gums may spread and potentially lead to other serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease.
- The bacteria that is hiding in pockets at the base of your teeth fill with pus and ooze into your mouth. As horrible as it sounds, once this infection combines with your saliva, it can mix into the moisture of the very air you breathe. If you then aspirate that contaminated air into your lungs, you are at risk for pneumonia and other pulmonary infections.
- Infection from periodontal disease can also enter your body via your bloodstream. In turn, this may lead to other infections and diseases that affect multiple organs in your body.
- Finally, your body may implement a systemic inflammatory response in an effort to heal itself, and by doing so, though over a longer period of time, it may actually do additional harm by triggering multiple other diseases, including heart disease, that are known to have an inflammatory root cause.
How can you prevent further infection?
If you have bleeding, tender gums, that is reason enough to contact your Santa Monica dentist immediately. Gum disease is treatable, but the longer you delay, the more difficult and expensive that treatment becomes. Protect your teeth and gums, and you may help to keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy too.