Did you know that periodontal disease could cause heart disease?

Does a healthy mouth equal a healthy heart? Could better brushing and flossing make the difference? The answer is yes.

Periodontal and gum disease are diseases of the supporting tissues of your teeth. They are primarily caused by plaque, a thin sticky film that adheres to the teeth and appliances such as dentures and orthodontic braces. The plaque causes inflammation and swelling of the gums. Over time, if the plaque is not brushed off, it calcifies and hardens into tartar. Tartar can form above or below the gum releasing toxins from the bacteria, leading to inflammation and bone resorption.

Key signs to watch for:

Red, swollen gums

Bleeding gums

Bad breath and taste

Gum recession

Teeth drifting apart

Loose teeth

How is periodontal disease related to heart disease, you ask?

Inflammation is the key.

Inflammation in your arteries leads to stiffer, narrower, blood vessels, making blood flow more difficult. Some bacteria and toxins can escape into your bloodstream via the mouth which can go anywhere and trigger inflammation throughout your body. Periodontal disease can also contribute to diabetes, obesity, strokes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer.

The absence of gum disease may significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Hence, it is so important to brush your teeth twice a day, floss at least once a day, and have a teeth cleaning twice a year. Galway Dentists offers new patients a dental check-up and teeth cleaning, including a treatment plan, for €57. For more information visit www.galwaydentists.ie/teeth-cleaning

Remember, a happy mouth equals a happy heart.

Dr Eilis O’Hagan and Dr Michael Donnelly are located at 6 Fr Griffin Avenue, The Crescent, Salthill, Galway, phone 091 582222 or visit www.galwaydentists.ie

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