Gum and Heart Disease again linked in recent study

As published in the Buck’s County Courier Times. 

For more than two decades, it has been known that there is an association between gum and cardiovascular or heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. Recently, a large Swedish study from Uppsala University confirms these findings. Those who have both gum and heart disease fare worse than those who maintain their teeth and have healthy gums.

The study surveyed nearly 16,000 people in 39 countries who had known heart disease. The group was followed for four years. At the end of the study, it was determined that the less teeth a person had, the greater the likelihood that they would suffer from a fatal heart attack or stroke.

Gum disease is caused by plaque, a bacterial film that continuously forms around the teeth. Bacterial plaque infects the gums when our brushing and flossing does not remove it. Plaque is responsible for sore, puffy and bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, and ultimately tooth loss. It is the main reason that people lose their teeth.

Millions of Americans suffer from gum disease, and is treated a number of different ways, depending on how advanced it is. The main ways to treat gum disease is with deep cleaning under the gums, gum surgery, bone grafts, and antibiotics. Oral hygiene technique and instruction also plays a critical role in the prevention and treatment of gum disease.

Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is the only one that can be cured, and steps include improved oral hygiene, which includes brushing properly at least three times a day, and flossing at least once a day. The addition of antiseptic mouth rinses can also help eliminate gingivitis.

Early gum disease is treated with a procedure known as scaling and root planning. The dentist or dental hygienist uses thin curettes and gently removes the plaque and tartar under the gum-line. Moderate and advanced gum disease is usually first treated with scaling and root planning. After the gums heal, a surgical procedure may be required if plaque remains deep under the gum-line. The addition of bone or gum grafts and antibiotics can also be employed in a comprehensive treatment strategy.

Identification and treatment of gum disease is important for your dental health. Regular dental visits are critical because gum disease is usually painless and most patients are unaware they have the condition. Those who have heart disease need to be especially diligent with their oral hygiene and dental care to preserve their dental and overall health.

Watch a brief dental hygiene demonstration video:

Dr. Jerry Gordon can be reached at (215) 639-0571. Comments, questions, and second opinions are available at The Dental Comfort Zone, 2734 Street Rd. Bensalem, PA 19020 (across from the Giant supermarket).

To learn more: www.dentalcomfortzone.com

E-mail: drjdmd@comcast.net