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February is American Heart Month and because heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, we hear a lot about it. But did you know that evidence shows there is a relationship between gum disease and heart disease?
Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection and inflammation of the gum tissues and bone that hold your teeth in place. In its early stage, it’s called gingivitis and can cause inflamed, red gums that bleed. If not managed with proper daily oral care, gingivitis may worsen and become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a form of gum disease that causes the gum tissue to pull away from the tooth allowing for further tooth decay, loss of bone and eventually tooth loss.
Oral bacteria may be the link to heart disease
The main cause of gum disease is harmful oral bacteria found in tooth plaque and tartar. Oral bacteria can travel through the gum tissues into the bloodstream, all over the body and into the heart valves and heart. The bacteria can trigger inflammation throughout the body which may cause a narrowing of important arteries where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.1 And, it may cause an infection in the bloodstream that could result in heart attack. Gum disease can increase a person’s risk of heart disease by as much as 20 percent.2
Reduce your risk
Prevention of gum disease is possible with regular dental checkups and proper oral hygiene by brushing twice and flossing daily. Fluoride toothpaste can help reduce and prevent tooth decay, and the use of an antimicrobial mouth rinse may reduce bacteria and plaque. Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you experience any of these gum disease symptoms:
If you already have gum disease, it’s important you:
Contribute to your heart health by maintaining good oral health habits and protect your healthy smile, too.
1 Heart disease and oral health: role of oral bacteria in heart plaque, Harvard health Publishing – https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/heart-disease-oral-health
2 The link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3100856/
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* All TruAssure dental plans, other than Basic and Preferred dental plans, are offered in association with the DenteMax Plus dental network arrangement, which includes participating dentists from the DenteMax, United Concordia and Connection dental networks. TruAssure Basic and Preferred dental plans for both group and individual members are offered in association with the DenteMax dental network.
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