By dentist Dr. Richard Mitchell
The connection between gum disease and heart disease has been suspected for many years. Now we know for sure that gum disease and heart disease almost go hand-in-hand. In fact, if you have gum disease, you have twice the risk of getting heart disease.
That means you are also more likely to have a heart attack.
THAT STATEMENT IS SO IMPORTANT, I'M GOING TO REPEAT IT;
IF YOU HAVE GUM DISEASE, YOU HAVE DOUBLE THE RISK OF GETTING HEART DISEASE.
A heart attack feels like a steel band across your chest, getting tighter and tighter - and you may have a searing pain down your left arm.
Most terrifyingly, you have a very strong feeling of impending doom.
You "know" that something awful is happening. It's as if your brain knows that you are in danger.
How can gum disease affect your heart?
Your heart is basically a muscle, like any other muscle in your body. It pumps blood around your lungs to get oxygen, and then round the rest of your body.
Your heart never rests. It works away 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Like the rest of your body, it needs oxygen. So it has it's own little arteries and veins.
When your heart doesn't get the oxygen it needs, you're in trouble. The main cause of a lack of oxygen getting to the heart is when its little arteries get clogged up. When this happens, blood FLOW can't get through to the heart's arteries and veins as well as normal. If there is a restricted blood flow, then your heart is being starved of oxygen!
The gradual build-up inside the arteries is a bit like lime scale building up inside water pipes or a kettle. As time goes by, the build-up gets more and more, gradually restricting the blood flow.
You might notice this when you do a bit of exercise and get a pain in your chest. That's a warning sign.
But the big problem arrives when a bit of the bacterial build-up inside the heart arteries breaks off. This tiny clump is carried along by the blood flow, and can get jammed into a smaller artery, blocking it off. When this happens, you have a heart attack. The section of your heart next to the blocked artery is starved of oxygen. Without oxygen, that part of your heart starts to die.
So the real cause of all these problems is the heart's own arteries getting clogged up, so that less oxygen-carrying blood gets through, and the increased risk that a small clot breaks away from the accumulated build-up.
Anything that adds to the clogging will make things worse.
And that's where gum disease comes in.
This is the gum disease and heart disease connection.
The bacteria living under your gums that cause gum disease can also get into your general blood circulation. As these bacteria travel around your body, they can "run aground" in the small arteries of your heart.
As the bacteria stick to the artery walls, they start to build up a layer of protein and fat. The more this layer builds up, the less blood can get through. And the higher the risk of a small clump breaking off and blocking an artery completely. When that happens, it's goodnight.
So as you can see, dental health & heart disease are closely linked.
But what can you do to reduce your risk of heart disease?
To put it as simply as possible, make sure that you don't let gum disease get started in your mouth; if you already have gum problems, get it looked at by a dentist and hygienist, and then start a program of home care. All it takes is 15 minutes a day.
REALLY IMPORTANT - read more at How to fight gum disease.
If you're still here, here's my BEST ADVICE on how to reduce your risk of gum disease giving you heart disease.
First, you have to get the dental plaque OFF your teeth. It might seem obvious, but it does take a little bit of time. You cannot get all the plaque off your teeth in just 2 minutes, as most electric toothbrushes would have you believe.
It takes longer than that. But how much time are you prepared to
spend, to reduce your chances of getting a heart attack? (As well as Alzheimer's and other diseases).
How about spending a few extra minutes brushing your teeth instead? It sounds a lot more appealing!
So, you have to spend MORE than 2 minutes brushing your teeth. How about 6 to 8 minutes? If you're trying to avoid a heart attack, it doesn't sound like much, does it? BUT what exactly do you have to do?
FIRST, go HERE and order some plaque disclosing tablets. These are tablets that will stain the dental plaque on your teeth, so that you can see it. Dental plaque is normally tooth colored, so it's hard to see. But when it's stained red or blue with disclosing tablets, it's easy to see!
And then you pick up your tooth brush, and start to slowly go around your teeth with the brush until all that stained plaque is gone. When you do this, you have removed all the bacterial plaque from the VISIBLE surfaces of your teeth. Job done?
NEXT, you have to pick up your Oral B Pro Expert dental tape, and go between each and every tooth to remove the bacteria that are between your teeth.You have to slowly and gently wiggle the tape under the gum around each and every tooth.
Remember, you are trying to prevent a terrifying and painful heart attack!
After you have flossed between each and every tooth with your Oral B Pro-Expert dental tape, you will have removed all the bacterial plaque that causes gum disease and heart disease.
AND THEN you have to do it again the next day, and the next day, and EVERY day, if you want to seriously reduce your risk of gum disease and the terrifying prospect of a heart attack. The link between dental health heart disease is VERY close. My best advice is to put a gap between your heart and your gums. That starts with brushing and flossing.
AND there s now a definite link between gum disease and Alzheimer's Disease. What more do you need to motivate you to start brushing and flossing more effectively?
Here are some other pages to do with health issues which may be useful: