American Heart Month

American Heart Month: Healthy Gums, Healthy Heart

February is American Heart Month, which reminds us all to focus on our own heart health.  

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  In fact, about 18.2 million adults over the age of 20 have Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). CAD is the most common form of heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack and heart failure. 

Gum & Heart Disease Risks

If you research heart disease risk factors and compare them with gum disease risk factors, you might notice some similarities such as:

  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Genetics
  • Obesity/Poor Nutrition
  • Stress

The Cost of Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease is not only deadly but also costly. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that not only is heart disease the number one killer in the U.S. it is also the most expensive, costing Americans close to one billion dollars per day! 

Interestingly, studies show that periodontal therapy can help reduce cardiovascular risks including hospitalizations and health costs. A 2014 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed that periodontal therapy lowered medical costs and hospitalizations for patients with the most common and costly medical conditions including CAD. 

How Gums Affect Your Heart

You may be wondering how the health of your gums have any influence on your heart health.  

Gum disease occurs when bacteria infects the space between your teeth and gums. That infection causes inflammation, which does not just stay in your mouth but travels through your bloodstream and gets pumped through your heart daily. 

According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), scientists believe that this inflammation increases your risk of heart disease.  And if you already have a heart condition, having an active gum infection may worsen your disease.  

Additionally, having gum disease can also increase your risk for high blood pressure, which increases your risks of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

This means that if you have gum disease, seeking treatment by a periodontist can be an important step toward a healthier heart!

The Takeaway

If you are reading this article and recognize that you might have some of the risk factors for both heart disease and gum disease, it is vital that you visit both your family doctor AND your family dentist for a full evaluation. 

 Ask your dentist if your gums are healthy!

Because experts agree that heart disease is largely preventable, you can use this information to reduce your risks.  Not only that, you can also help to improve your oral health, which can give you something to smile about too!

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