- What is periodontal disease?
- Heart disease and gum disease
- Maintaining your oral health
Dental disease is infectious. It can be transmitted through the sharing of utensils, toothbrushes and anything else that permits the exchange of saliva.
There is no “vaccine” for preventing dental disease.
Dental disease prevention requires active involvement of both the patient and a dentist. It includes regular examinations (with X-rays), diagnosis and treatment planning by a dentist, fluoride applications as needed, dental sealants and restorative treatment. Patient education, healthy dietary habits and daily oral hygiene practices are also important.
Severe periodontal (gum) disease often leads to tooth loss, but recent scientific research suggests a link to a variety of common, non-oral health conditions, including heart disease.
Our teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Brushing after meals and snacks and flossing between teeth daily helps remove plaque.
Plaque that is not removed may harden into calculus. When calculus accumulates either above or below the gumline, the gum tissue becomes irritated and inflamed. The early stage of periodontal (gum) disease is called gingivitis. Symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Gums that bleed when teeth are brushed
- Red, swollen and tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between the gum and tooth
- A change in one’s bite
Periodontal diseases are serious bacterial infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth. When this happens, gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that fill with plaque and even more infection. The more advanced the disease, the deeper the pockets.
Some studies suggest the amount of bacteria in subgingival plaque might be associated with an increased risk for heart disease.
One study examined 150 individuals with periodontal diseases and found the total number of periodontal bacteria in subgingival plaque was higher in those who had suffered a heart attack.
Also, DNA from different kinds of periodontal bacteria appeared in participants’ heart arteries.
Finally, a research team discovered that 91 percent of patients with cardiovascular disease suffered from moderate to severe periodontitis, compared to 66 percent in non-cardiac patients.
Continuing research seems to support the theory that bacteria found in the space between the gum and tooth (periodontal pocket) can enter the bloodstream through the inflamed gum tissue, potentially contributing to the development of other diseases.
Prevention is, and always will be, a cornerstone to good oral health. Preventing dental disease is more than a one-time event. It requires a comprehensive approach and should include, but not be limited to:
- Professional diagnosis by a dentist
- Regular dental examinations with X-rays
- Necessary restorative and periodontal treatment early in the development of dental disease
- Regular personal oral hygiene practices (Brush and floss daily!)
- Observance of a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits
- Consumption or application of appropriate fluoride supplements
- Appropriate placement of dental sealants
- Patient education
Educate your patients about the possible link between periodontal disease and heart disease. Brochure material:
- Defines periodontal disease and its symptoms
- Discusses the possible link between periodontal disease and heart disease
- Provides tips for maintaining good oral health
Visit The Dental Record’s website or call 800-243-4675 to place an order.