Each and every February, loved ones throughout the United States go above and beyond preparing for Valentine’s Day. Whether you choose to show your love with chocolates or flowers, one thing remains constant — bright red hearts are everywhere we look. But there’s another reason (besides Valentine’s Day) that we should pay attention to these hearts. February is American Heart Health Month and focuses on raising awareness of how daily choices affect our risk of heart disease. In fact, this holiday has a special place in your Hermiston dentist’s heart because there is a strong connection between oral health and heart health.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues usually caused by a buildup of bacteria and plaque. When someone doesn’t brush their teeth often enough or well enough, plaque is left behind and can easily work its way up under the gum, settle in, and cause trouble.
There are four stages of gum disease including:
- Slight Periodontal Disease
- Moderate Periodontal Disease
- Advanced Periodontal Disease
Gum disease can be treated if caught in the gingivitis stage, so make sure you visit your dentist in Hermiston every six months for dental cleanings, x-rays, and thorough exams so we can identify any problems early.
What Does This Have to Do With Your Heart?
If gingivitis isn’t diagnosed and treated quickly it will progress into slight, moderate, or advanced periodontal disease, all of which are irreversible. When gum disease progresses into these advanced stages, the infection can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. This can affect areas outside of the mouth, including the heart.
Bacteria from gum disease in the bloodstream causes the body to produce too much C-reactive protein (CRP). Higher than normal levels of CRP can lead to serious conditions such as:
- Inflamed arteries
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
Knowing that your oral health can have such an impact on your overall wellness makes it so incredibly important that you practice good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing every day.
Signs of Gum Disease
Since early diagnosis is so crucial to treating gum disease before it has the chance to affect the rest of your body, you need to know the signs of gum disease. Keep an eye out for:
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Puffy, tender gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, call your dentist in Hermiston to schedule an appointment.
This American Heart Health Month, commit to reducing your chances of heart disease by brushing and flossing every day, seeing your dentist in Hermiston twice a year, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. For more ideas on how to live a heart-healthy life, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.