We all know that it’s important to brush and floss regularly in order to protect our smiles from decay and cavities. But did you know that taking care of your oral health can also help protect your heart too? To celebrate American Heart Month, our dental office in Lawrenceville wants to share some information about just how regular dental care can help your heart.
Oral Health & Heart Health Connection
Keeping your oral health in tip-top shape isn’t just about the mouth itself. In fact, many whole-body concerns including diabetes, kidney disease, certain types of cancer, and heart disease have been linked to oral health, and more specifically, gum health. For the purpose of this blog, we’re going to talk about heart disease.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), gum disease has a direct connection to an increased risk for heart disease. But how can something that originates in the mouth find its way down to the heart? It’s pretty easy actually. When there’s a buildup of bacteria in the gums (gum disease) it has a direct route to the bloodstream. As the bacteria infiltrate the blood supply they can cause a surge in the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) present. This is when the problems start. Too much CRP can cause:
- Blood clots
- Inflamed arteries
- Heart attack
Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a serious health problem that requires a diagnosis from your dentist in Lawrenceville. If caught early, gum disease can be treated successfully before it has a chance to put the rest of your body at risk. Being able to recognize the signs of gum disease quickly can make all the difference. Some common signs of gum disease include:
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Consistently bad breath
- Chronic bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth
Any of these symptoms may be cause for concern, so if you notice any of these, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
The best way to protect yourself from gum disease and the whole-body concerns that can go with it is to practice good oral hygiene habits and see your Lawrenceville dentist regularly. Dental cleanings and checkups every six months can help remove plaque and bacteria that your toothbrush alone can’t touch, which will reduce your risk of gum disease.
If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental visit, we welcome you to call our Lawrenceville dental office to schedule an appointment today.
Being stressed out is stressful enough, but knowing that constant or repeated high levels of stress can actually affect your health and make you sick certainly doesn’t help either. Too much stress can cause serious health issues throughout the body including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity. But the concerns don’t end there. Our dental office in Lawrenceville also wants our patients to know that high stress can also affect oral health.
Clenching & Grinding
During periods of increased stress, a common and automatic response may be to clench our teeth together or even grind them against each other. If either of these habits is done too often, it could result in chipped, broken, or cracked teeth as well as damage to the jaw joint. The constant force put on the jaw joint during repeated clenching can make the muscles sore and eventually cause TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder, or TMD, tends to be painful and may also cause popping, clicking, or a locked joint. In order to get relief, your dentist in Lawrenceville will need to find the best TMJ treatment for your individual case.
When many people think of gum disease they often immediately assume it was caused by poor dental hygiene. But there are several other factors that can put you at increased risk including smoking, medications, clenching or grinding your teeth, and stress. Gum disease is a serious condition that not only affects your mouth but also your whole body. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, heart disease, and increase the risk for stroke.
Lower Your Stress & Protect Your Health
Stress is a natural part of life, but there are things you can do to help protect your health against the negative side effects of too much of it.
- Take a Deep Breath. Believe it or not, sometimes all you need to reduce stress is a few minutes of deep breathing. Focusing on your breath can lower your heart rate and help you feel more relaxed almost instantly.
- Work up a Sweat. Exercising regularly increases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone. These chemicals are known to help make us feel good and combat anxiety and stress. Go for a walk, do some yoga, swim some laps. Whatever you do… just get moving.
- Sleep it Off. It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours a sleep every night, but many of us don’t. A thorough night’s sleep can reboot your body, lower stress, and give your body a chance to recover.
Nobody likes feeling stressed, and nobody wants to put their health at risk because of it. Commit to finding ways to help you relax, handle stress better, and keep anxiety low.
Nearly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. That’s 30 million people who have the added responsibility of working to maintain their blood glucose levels day in and day out. While it’s fairly well known that diabetes can lead to other health problems such as heart disease and kidney disease, it may be surprising to learn that diabetes can also affect oral health. In fact, the team at our dental office in Lawrenceville wants our patients to know that oral health can also, in turn, affect diabetes.
The Diabetes & Oral Health Connection
Research has suggested a connection between diabetes and gum disease, and vice versa. Studies have consistently shown that people who are diabetic are more likely to develop gum disease than those without diabetes. But that’s not all. If we look at the connection from the other direction, research supports that gum disease can also make it more difficult to manage blood sugar levels, leading to diabetic complications and perhaps a progression of the disease. To reduce the risk of gum disease and maintain proper blood glucose levels, consider trying the tips below…
Control Your Blood Sugar
This one is obvious for anyone with diabetes or for anyone whose loved one is diabetic. After all, keeping blood glucose levels within a healthy range is what diabetic maintenance is all about. Besides keeping your body healthy, controlled blood sugar levels reduce the risk of developing gum disease, which can lead to even more health problems such as heart disease.
Keep Your Mouth Healthy
Besides seeing your dentist in Lawrenceville every six months for a preventative exam and thorough dental cleaning, it’s also important to practice good oral hygiene at home. Regular, routine at-home care is a great way to ensure your teeth, gums, and even tongue stay healthy. To follow a proper oral hygiene routine, we recommend:
- Using a fluoride toothpaste to protect against tooth decay
- Brushing both when you wake up before you go to bed
- Flossing at least once a day to clean all the areas that brushing can’t reach
Good Food is Good For You
Limiting how many sugar-packed foods you eat or drink is good practice for anyone, but especially for those living with diabetes. To help keep blood sugar regulated and support overall health, make sure to eat a well-balanced diet packed with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
The patients at our Lawrenceville dental office are our top priority and we’re committed to doing everything we can to keep not only their mouths healthy, but their bodies healthy, too. If you’re looking for a new dentist or have questions about your oral health, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our dedicated team today.
At our dental office in Lawrenceville we’re often asked if gum disease and gingivitis are the same thing. It’s a common misconception regarding a serious disease that can have serious consequences if left untreated, and we’d like to clarify the difference.
Defining Gum Disease
Gum disease at its core is an infection in the gums that may also affect the bones and tissues that are holding your teeth in place. But gum disease has three different stages that are all treated a different way.
The earliest form of gum disease is known as gingivitis and occurs when plaque build up creeps under the gum line and causes an infection. However, if gum disease is caught during this earliest stage it’s often successfully treated and any damage that may have occurred can even be reversed.
If gingivitis isn’t treated quickly it can progress to the next stage of gum disease — periodontitis. During this stage of gum disease the plaque build up can weaken the bones and the tissues that keep teeth secure. Treatment in this stage is focused more on reducing additional damage as the damage that’s already been done can’t be reversed.
If plaque build up is still left alone the bone and tissues will continue weaken and even teeth may even fall out. It’s also not uncommon to experience loose teeth or a shift in bite. Damage at this level is irreversible.
Recognizing Gum Disease
When gum disease is in its early stages, you might not even be aware that there’s a problem. In that case, your gum disease may go untreated and get progressively worse. Be aware of the most common signs of gum disease including:
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Receding gums
- Swollen, red gums
If gum disease is not treated it can not only lead to tooth loss but also some very serious whole-body diseases and concerns such as an increased risk for lung disease, cancer, heart attacks, and stroke.
Maintaining good gum health is an important part of keeping mouths and bodies in their best shape. You can help protect your oral health by quitting smoking, eating well, and brushing and flossing every day. Visiting your dentist in Lawrenceville every six months can also go a long way in catching any oral health problems, including gum disease, early and while still treatable.
If you’re due for a regular visit, or have any questions or concerns, give us a call at our Lawrenceville dental office.