The overwhelming data shows that chronic periodontal (gum) disease contributes to the development of heart disease and stroke. About 75% of Americans have mild to advanced gum disease. And heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. And yet most people are not aware of this deadly connection. As a former dental hygienist, I can tell you that flossing can literally save your life…
How could gum disease affect the heart? Inflammation and bacteria seem to be the underlying link between the two. Diseased gums dump high levels of bacteria into the bloodstream. These harmful bacteria components can travel to other organs in the body, like the heart, and cause damage. The bacteria from the gums enter the bloodstream and connect to the plaques in the coronary arteries. This leads to formation of blood clots, which, if break off, lead to stroke and heart attacks.
We are becoming increasingly aware that inflammation in the body is a common factor in many diseases – including periodontal disease and heart disease. There is a connection between the inflamed gums and the swelling of arteries that still needs to be understood. Somehow, researchers theorize, the inflammation in periodontal disease increases inflammation throughout the body. We know inflammation is an underlying factor in heart disease.
We also know that it is the amount of bacteria in the mouth that makes a difference rather than which strain of bacteria we are finding. When the gums are swollen and bleeding and you have a mouth full of bacteria, the bacteria easily finds its way into the bloodstream in huge numbers.
Gingivitis is the fist stage of periodontal disease. It is the only stage that is reversible. The symptoms are red, swollen, bleeding gums. But the infection has not yet started to erode away the bone that supports your teeth. By brushing and flossing regularly, you can clear up gingivitis to healthy gums again. Why? Because you are removing the cause: the bacteria under the gums! Once you have periodontal disease you have lost supporting bone for the tooth. You should see a gum specialist called a Periodontist.
The biggest advice I can give is to FLOSS! I also recommend using an ultrasonic toothbrush. It removes plaque much better than manual toothbrushes. The name of the game is to completely remove all plaque every 24 hours every day!