Monday, December 9, 2013

One More Reason to Take Good Care of Your Gums

Heart disease and gum disease are both pervasive issues in the US, and now there's evidence that they may be linked- that is, those who suffer from gum disease may be at a higher risk for heart disease. Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that as the overall health of the mouth worsens, the thickening of arteries which can lead to heart disease also progresses, while improved oral health results in healthier arteries.

What did this study entail?

Researchers followed the health of over 400 adults between the ages of 60 and 76, examining their oral and cardiovascular health both at the beginning of the study and at the end of the three-year period. The oral exams studied over 5,000 different fluid and tissue samples from various areas of the mouth and gums, while ultrasounds were used to determine the extent of artherosclerosis, or thickening of the artery walls due to plaque buildup, taking place in the body of each subject.

What did researchers find?

The conclusion of three years of study showed that a slowed progression of artherosclerosis coincided with improvement of gum health and reduction of oral bacteria. At the same time, those whose dental health had worsened over the course of the study showed higher levels of artherosclerosis. The scientists conducting the experiment found these results to hold true even after adjusting for factors like weight levels, smoking history and diabetes, all of which are known to influence heart health.

What does this mean for you?

While this study did not clearly find a cause-and-effect link between oral health and cardiovascular health, it does point strongly to the idea that these two areas are linked. Some scientists theorize that an overabundance of bacteria in the mouth triggers inflammation through the rest of the body, which can negatively affect the amount of plaque buildup retained in the arteries. This isn't the first study to find a connection between dental health and heart health; a 2010 study concluded that plaque buildup on the teeth can encourage heart attacks or heart disease by increasing the possibility of blood clots.

Your main three weapons against bacteria buildup in the mouth are brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits. Don't think that you can skip your checkup because you aren't experiencing any problems- often gum disease goes unnoticed until it has progressed to a pretty severe point. Your dentist will be able to spot any signs of trouble and help you improve your oral health before it gets out of hand.

Karina Wisekopf writes about preventative health and oral care. To find similar topics of high quality, visit a top Scottsdale dentist. Dedicated to your oral health with gentle care and beautiful natural results, this Scottsdale dentistry team makes your smile top priority, and regularly contributes to the community at large.
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