You may realize that poor oral hygiene could eventually lead to tooth loss, especially when gum disease develops and threatens the gums and jawbone that support your teeth. Few people, however, recognize that neglecting to care for their teeth and gums can have resounding consequences beyond oral health. Today, we explore how the mechanisms involved in gum disease may be a contributing factor to your risk of developing heart disease.

The Mechanisms Behind Gum Disease

If you’ve ever run your tongue across your teeth and felt a sticky substance coating their surfaces, then you’ve personally encountered dental plaque. The biofilm is formed by and comprised of oral bacteria, which number around 10-15 billion in your mouth at any given moment. Not all of these germs are harmful, but dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease can stem from the excessive accumulation of these microbes if you do not diligently control their buildup. Gum disease, for instance, begins when the germ, Porphyromonas gingivalis, manipulates your immune system, resulting in the inflammation of your gingival (gum) tissue.

Gum Disease Germs and Your Heart Health

Red, swollen gums are an indication of gingivitis, the beginning stage of gum disease. As the affliction progresses and your gums bleed, the compromised oral tissue may allow bacteria into your bloodstream, where it can travel throughout your body and to your heart. If P. gingivalis make contact with your heart’s valves and tissues, they could potentially invoke inflammation in these areas as well, possibly setting the stage for a number of different heart issues. In one study that sought to define this phenomenon, researchers discovered that P. gingivalis infection resulted in an acceleration of atherosclerosis—a disease that involves plaque buildup and hardening of your arteries.

Protect Your Smile and Your Heart!

By protecting your smile from gum disease, you can also improve your long-term systemic health and overall quality of life! To learn more, call our family dental office in Upton, MA, today at 508-529-4591. We proudly welcome patients from all surrounding communities, including, Grafton, Hopedale, Whitinsville, and more.


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