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How to Beat Heart Disease: With a Periodontist, You Can Win
February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. You can fight back by eating healthy; becoming physically active; controlling your high blood pressure or cholesterol; and getting a clean bill of health from your periodontist.
Periodontal disease, heart disease and stroke may seem to have an unlikely connection, but researchers have found that gum disease sufferers are nearly twice as likely to also suffer from coronary heart disease. Research studies have discovered that oral infection is indeed a risk factor for certain types of cancer, stroke and other serious heart and health problems.
The Connection Between Your Mouth and Heart:
There are several theories, which may explain the link between heart disease, stroke and periodontal disease, which include the following:
Bacteria in the mouth – There are many different strains of bacteria. Researchers assert that some of these strains of bacteria enter the bloodstream through your mouth and attach to the fatty plaques in the blood vessels of the heart. This attachment then contributes to clot formation, causing grave danger to the individual.
Inflammation – Periodontal bacteria causes severe inflammation in the gum tissue, which elevates the white blood cell count.
Immune System Deficiency – Individuals who experience particularly high levels of oral bacteria may have weaker immune systems. These factors may induce specific vascular effects, which have previously been shown to contribute in the onset of certain forms of heart disease.
There is little doubt that the presence of periodontal disease can worsen existing heart conditions. In fact, for many patients periodontists and cardiologists work as a team in order to treat individuals experiencing both conditions.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Since periodontal disease appears to be a risk factor for both heart attack and stroke, it is extremely important to seek immediate treatment with an experienced periodontist. Dentists who specialize in the treatment and prevention of periodontal (gum) disease – periodontists – are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation, plaque and bacteria as they receive extensive training in these areas during their three additional years of education beyond dental school. Periodontists are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures, and dental implants.
Initially, the periodontist will conduct thorough examinations to assess the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone. X-rays can be helpful in determining whether bone loss is prevalent in the upper and lower jaw.
The periodontist is also able to conduct deep cleaning treatments to remove hardened calculus (tartar) deposits from the gum pockets. An antibiotic may be prescribed to ensure that the bacteria is completely destroyed and the periodontal infection does not spread to the rest of the body. Antibiotics alone are not enough to treat periodontal conditions but dental treatment along with antibiotics can have the power to get and keep your body healthy.
Fortunately, you can fight back against heart disease. Visiting a periodontist today to remedy gum disease may be one of the best things you can do to help lower these overall health risks. If you are over the age of 45, have any health compromise, experience bleeding gums, or are interested in keeping your natural teeth for your lifetime call a periodontist right away. Get the answers to your questions about how good dental care might just save your life.