What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth (known clinically as the periodontium).
The foods and beverages we eat and drink contain sugars and starches that, when allowed to remain on the surface of the teeth (which is called plaque), can be quite harmful to the protective layer of enamel on each tooth.
Plaque, when not removed, hardens over time and forms a substance known as calculus (tartar), which can only be removed during a professional cleaning.
Failure to follow through with brushing, flossing, and dental hygiene appointments allows the plaque and calculus on both the surface of the teeth as well as above and below the gums. As bacteria gathers and grows beneath the gumline, it begins to eat away at both the gum and bone structure.
Over time, the patient will begin to experience:
- Gum recession
- Formation of pockets between the gum and the tooth
- Bad breath
What is the Connection between Gum Disease and the Heart?
Periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic infection of the gum tissue. When the infection is not taken care of and is allowed to remain in the body, the infection and bacteria has the potential to enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart.
Once the bacteria has reached the heart, it can trigger dangerous inflammation or infection in the valves of the heart.
Lowering Your Risk
To lower your risk of both gum and heart disease, you can take the following steps:
- Brush twice daily for a minimum of two minutes
- Floss at least twice daily or after every meal
- Attend professional cleaning appointments as needed
- Follow through with corresponding treatment if you have been diagnosed with gum disease
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods/beverages
- Keep a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Your oral health strongly affects your overall health. Taking care of your teeth goes far beyond achieving an attractive smile; it truly is a conscious decision made to maintain the health of your body as a whole, as well.
Speak with your general doctor if you have concerns about the health or condition of your heart. He or she will be able to provide you with a plan for managing your diet and lifestyle. If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, ensure that you inform your doctor. Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, ensure that your dentist is informed, as well.
For more information about how to keep both your mouth and heart healthy or to get scheduled for an appointment in our San Jose dental office, give us a call anytime at (408) 478-9081.