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Dental Health Awareness: Gum Disease and Heart Disease

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Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease: A Dangerous Duo

A little-known fact…

When someone is stricken with an illness, they often feel as though they are “fighting” the illness, and while it has become something of a cliché way of describing it, indeed “fighting it” is actually a quite accurate way of putting it. Fighting a disease is essentially like fighting an enemy within your own body and while fighting one disease at a time can be very tough, fighting two different diseases at one is a harrowing experience to say the least!

Unfortunately, this has been the case for many people, as not having accurate dental health awareness, overlooking routine oral hygiene procedures or improperly preforming them can lead to the condition known as Periodontal Disease!

Periodontal Disease: A Deceptive Enemy

Whether known as Periodontal Disease, or more formally as Periodontitis, or even simply as gum disease, this progressive illness should not be taken lightly! While initially considered to be more of a cosmetic issue, periodontal disease has in many cases been thought of as little more than a nuisance that merely discolors your teeth and gives you bad breath. However, this is a gross misconception. In reality, gum disease is a progressive infection that while beginning in the gumline, eventually spreads throughout the mouth, often damaging everything it reaches. In some of the more severe cases, gum disease has been known to entirely destroy a sufferer’s jawbone, or even spread into other regions of body. Once periodontal disease has reached this stage, the likelihood of it triggering additional illnesses or interacting with pre-existing ones becomes a serious concern, that may even prove to be life-threatening.

 

Dental Health Awareness: The Interaction

While periodontal disease can affect a person’s health in a number of different ways, the link between periodontitis and a person’s cardiovascular health is perhaps the most prominent. As something of an umbrella term, cardiovascular or heart disease pertains to any such conditions that may block the heart’s valves or restrict its blood flow in anyway. As mentioned previously, in severe cases of gum disease once the excess bacteria enter the body’s blood vessels, it will begin to travel throughout the body. If the periodontal bacteria reach the heart, it will likely inflame vessels causing blood clots to develop and damage to occur. This damage will slowly began restricting the flow of blood, effectively choking the heart and forcing it to pump faster while producing less and less.

Given this data, skeptics in both the dental and medical fields are quick to point out that despite the previous information, periodontal disease still does not guarantee an eventual heart attack. While this is certainly true, according to a recent study conducted by Harvard University, individuals afflicted with gum disease have at least a two to three times higher probability of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other sort of cardiovascular-based issue; alas, proving the correlation to be self-evident.

 

Dental Health Awareness: What to look for

Along with the clear link to cardiovascular illness, periodontal disease can also play a major role in the onset of or worsening of diabetes mellitus, which if mismanaged may wreak havoc on a person’s health and overall quality of life.  With so many hazards and associated issues, you’re probably wondering what exactly can be done to stop gum disease? Odd as it may sound, the key to preventing periodontal disease from appearing in your life is prevention itself. Much like a large hornet’s nest that has been left to grow and prosper, (thereby becoming a problem) gum disease is a progressive illness that will only become an issue if it is neglected, improperly managed, and ultimately allowed to thrive. This is one of the main reasons we talk so much about dental health awareness.

Learning and familiarizing yourself the signs and symptoms of gum disease is a crucial first step in preventing periodontal disease from becoming an issue in the first place. Some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • Bleeding or noticeably swollen gums
  • Excess pus buildup around gums and teeth
  • Hard brownish deposits that accumulate along the gum line
  • Chronic foul breath
  • Newly formed gaps between teeth or teeth that appear loose
  • Alterations in bite / changes in chewing habits

Related Article: Diabetes and Oral Health: The Link to Gum Disease

 

Dental Health Awareness: Risk Factors

As you can imagine, there are multiple factors such as; lifestyle habits or underlining issues that can play a major role in the development or worsening of periodontal disease which is why your dental health awareness is important to our team.

Such risk factors may include:

  • Smoking or any tobacco use
  • Genetic disposition / history of dental problems
  • Poor or improper oral hygiene
  • Preexisting health issues such as diabetes or hormonal disorders
  • Prescription or recreational drug use
  • Bruxism / clenching and grinding your teeth
  • Excess stress or a weakened immune system
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Previously damaged or misaligned teeth

 

Don’t Fight Alone!

As mentioned previously, what truly makes a disease like Periodontitis so dangerous is its uncanny ability to trigger additional issues such as heart disease. While fighting this gruesome twosome of periodontal disease and heart disease is certainly an uphill battle, you don’t have to fight alone! At Overland Park Dentistry, Dr. Kimes and his wonderful staff are here to help you in this battle by providing you with some of the highest quality dental care in the Kansas City area.

Related Article: Your Overland Park Dentist: Charles R. Kimes, DDS

Make no mistake, gum disease is very dangerous and if left untreated the consequences could be dire. So, please don’t let this happen to you, come see us at Overland Park Dentistry and let’s fight periodontal disease together!

Dr. Charles R. Kimes, DDS and his expert team at Overland Park Dentistry look forward to having the opportunity to care for you and your family with any preventativerestorative or cosmetic needs you or your family may have. To schedule your dental appointment or whitening consultation with your Overland Park Dentist, contact us at our south Overland Park office at (913) 647-8700 or our north Overland Park office at (913) 341-2380.