Whilst maintaining a beautiful smile is important, it’s also incredibly important to make sure that your gums are kept plaque-free. Multiple studies have suggested there is a link between gum disease (Periodontal disease) and heart disease, the highest cause of mortality in the world.
Researches at the Hiroshima University in Japan conducted a study with 350 patients, examining their dental conditions. Their research showed that patients with less than 24 of their own teeth are 60% more likely to suffer a stroke.
A stroke is a loss of brain function due to a disturbance of the blood supply to the brain. They are due to either ischemia (lack of blood flow due to a blockage) or a hemorrhage (leakage of blood from a blood vessel). During any stroke the nerve cells in the affected area of the brain can die within minutes of being deprived of oxygen.
One theory suggested by Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a a CBS News Medical Correspondent, explains gum infections irritate the arteries of the heart, making them more susceptible to a build up of plaque that restricts blood flow.
Another theory suggests that bacteria from the mouth, enter the blood stream and attach themselves to plaque in the heart arteries. This can in turn lead to the cause of cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death in the UK. Studies show that microbes related with gum disease have been found in atheromas, a buildup of calcified material in the arteries of heart patients. These microbes can damage cells lining the arteries and may cause swelling in the arteries and brain tissues, producing compounds involved in clotting.
It may be difficult to check whether you are suffering from gum disease, often it’s not painful and some patients may have no visible symptoms. This is why it’s incredibly important to attend regular check-ups with your dentist and they are trained to spot early signs of disease. Some symptoms you may notice are swollen gums that are red in colour and the your teeth bleeding when you brush them. If gum disease progresses to periodontitis your teeth may wobble and abscesses may form under the gum.
To prevent the onset of periodontal disease patients should maintain a good standard or oral hygiene. Importantly along side regular brushing, daily flossing is recommended to keep the areas between gums and teeth plaque-free. If the plaque isn’t removed, it will harden into a thick deposit called tartar. If tartar stays on the teeth and below the gumline it can lead to chronic infection and inflammation. The only way to safely remove tartar is to visit your dental hygienist to have your teeth professionally cleaned. Regular checkups with the dentist are essential to prevent gum disease and other dental problems you may face.