Despite improvements in oral health in the United States, about half of women and men aged 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (gum disease), occurs when bacteria accumulate under your gums. This leads to an infection that inflames the tissue and bones that keep your teeth in place.
If you don’t treat periodontal disease, you increase your risk for tooth loss. But that's not the only health condition linked to gum disease. Infections in your gums can also affect your cardiovascular health and increase your risk for stroke.
At Union Square Dental, Kateryna Grytsenko, DDS, and our entire dental team are committed to preserving your teeth and health. Although brushing and flossing daily and visiting the dentist twice a year are crucial, you can’t neglect your gums.
How gums get infected
More than 700 different species of microbes make their homes in your mouth. Among those microbes are various types of bacteria. Although many of these microbes support oral health, some lead to problems like cavities and gum disease.
When oral bacteria mix with food particles, saliva, and mucus, they form a sticky film on your teeth and gums called plaque. Regular brushing and flossing can help get rid of plaque.
However, if you don’t remove the plaque quickly enough, it turns into tartar. Tartar is a hard, yellow, or brown substance that can’t be removed by your toothbrush, special toothpaste, or dental floss. Only a dentist can remove it with specialized tools during a professional tooth cleaning session.
Tartar traps bacteria under your gums and on your teeth. The trapped bacteria can multiply in a warm and moist environment, causing an infection and inflammation.
Why gum disease is linked to heart health and stroke
You may find it counterintuitive that your bleeding or infected gums affect your heart health. However, the bacteria that causes gum disease can travel from your mouth and into your bloodstream. The bacteria then circulate and cause inflammation in other parts of your body, including your blood vessels and the valves in your heart.
Researchers are still trying to understand the link between gum disease and heart disease. But according to the American Academy of Periodontology, the evidence that gum disease increases your risk for developing heart disease is strong.
Periodontal disease also doubles your risk of having a stroke, according to a study published in Vascular Health and Risk Management. During a stroke, a blocked or bleeding blood vessel reduces blood supply to your brain, which can lead to permanent brain damage and other complications.
Treat your gum disease now
Gum disease is treatable. The earlier you treat gum disease, the less likely it is you’ll go on to develop complications such as tooth loss, heart attack, or stroke. At Union Square Dental, we offer several effective and innovative therapies that can treat gum infections and reduce inflammation, including:
- Deep cleaning (i.e., root planing and scaling)
- Laser periodontal treatment
When necessary, we perform pocket reduction surgery, cleaning your tooth roots and recontours the bone. Pocket reduction immediately improves your oral health. It also makes future teeth cleanings much easier.
Laser treatments offer double benefits. Not only does laser therapy destroy the biofilm that causes infection and inhibits healthy gum growth, but it also helps stimulate the production of new bone cells to keep your teeth secure.
Of course, the best type of gum treatment is prevention. Brush twice daily and floss daily. We recommend biannual professional dental cleanings that remove tartar buildup from your teeth and gums to reduce your risk of periodontitis.
If your gums are sore, bleeding, or receding, call us for periodontal disease treatment today. If your gums are still healthy, keep them that way by booking a professional dental cleaning and tartar removal. Phone our friendly staff or use our online scheduler.