Managing Wellness

Gum Disease and Heart Disease: Is There a Link?

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Posted by November 15, 2016

Did you know that treating gum disease in patients with certain chronic illnesses can result in significantly lower overall medical costs for those patients? In fact, your oral health can have a significant effect on your overall wellness and taking care of your teeth and gums properly may lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Possible Links

Several studies have shown a link between gum disease and heart disease. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) notes that gum disease is a risk factor for heart disease, and a 2014 review found that gum disease and tooth loss boost your risk of having a stroke.

Does Gum Disease Cause Heart Disease?

While a link exists between gum disease and heart disease, there isn’t a proven cause-and-effect relationship between the two, notes the AAP. However, Cleveland Clinic reports that mouth bacteria from gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause inflammation (a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke). And Harvard Health Publications suggests that inflammation in your body caused by gum disease may worsen heart disease.

Risk Factors

Another way gum disease is linked with heart disease is the two share many of the same risk factors, including:

  • Smoking
  • Older age
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Poor nutrition
  • Being overweight

Effects on Health Care Costs

Getting treated for gum disease not only reduces your risk for heart disease, it can lead to huge savings in health care costs. Recent research suggests that gum disease treatment is associated with better overall health, lower medical costs, and fewer hospitalizations in patients with conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Prevention Tips

While you can’t always prevent gum disease or heart disease, following a few simple guidelines greatly reduces your risk for developing one or both of these conditions.

  1. Avoid smoking
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Follow a nutritious diet
  4. Limit sweets and sugary drinks
  5. Stay active with regular exercise
  6. Try destressing techniques such as yoga, massage, tai chi and getting plenty of sleep
  7. See a dentist every six months
  8. Brush twice daily, and floss at least once daily

Bottom Line

While there’s no guarantee in preventing gum disease or heart disease, living a healthy lifestyle greatly reduces your risk. If you do develop gum disease, seeking treatment is a must because doing so may lower your chance of developing heart disease down the road.

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