February is American Heart Month, an excellent time to take a look at how your habits might be affecting your cardio health. There are some unexpected ways that the condition of your heart is linked to your overall health; however, periodontitis has been linked to heart disease.
Studies and Correlation
Heart disease and gum disease have been shown to be correlated in a number of different studies. The mouth can show signs of impending heart trouble, especially when it comes to the gums. Additionally, periodontitis can increase the number of bacteria in the bloodstream, which may be able to find its way to the heart.
The two conditions share the same risk factors. People who smoke are more likely than the general population to have heart attacks and gum problems, and the same is true for older people and people with diabetes.
In addition, heart disease and gum disease can have similar effects—mainly inflammation and swelling. Blood moves back and forth between the heart and the mouth and may carry infections with it in extreme cases.
Which Came First?
The exact connection between gum disease and heart disease is not fully understood. It is possible that cardiovascular disease causes or contributes to gum disease, but it is also completely possible that the reverse is also true. Another possibility is that the two are related to some third factor (such as smoking, age, or overall inflammation) that simultaneously causes both.
Whatever the exact relationship is, however, caring for both your heart and your mouth is a great way to celebrate American Heart Month. By cutting back on sugar, you can prevent tooth decay and gum disease; quitting smoking is another step that can have great effects on both oral and cardiovascular health.
If you want to know more about how your oral hygiene affects your systemic health, set up an appointment with Dr. Saunders. Call 540-907-4060 today to reach the Shenandoah Valley Implant Institute.