The gums often play second fiddle to the stars of the mouth: your teeth. It’s very important, however, to give your gums the same tender loving care you give your teeth because the health of our gums is just as important as the health of our teeth. If your gums are not properly cared for with regular brushing, flossing, and twice-yearly check-ups, you may be surprised to learn that not only will your gums suffer, but your overall health could suffer, also.

Gum health is associated with:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Some cancers
  • Stroke

woman flossing her teeth

The Link Between Gum Health and Heart Disease

The health of your mouth is very closely associated with many other systems in your body, including the cardiovascular system. By taking good care of your teeth and gums, you can take good care of your heart health. Tooth decay, gum disease, and periodontal disease will affect your oral health as well as your cardiovascular health.

Gingivitis is the medical term for gum disease, and periodontal disease is the medical term for advanced gingivitis where there is damage to the gums supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and more serious issues if not properly treated by a Burkburnett general dentist.

Inflammation is the medical term to indicate swelling, redness, warmth, and pain. Inflammation is often seen with gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis causes red, tender, painful, swollen gums and will lead to periodontitis, which is characterized by pockets of pus in and around the gums. Dentists use the term “periodontal disease” to refer to an advanced degree of gum disease. If your gum disease is too advanced for a general dentist in Burkburnett, Texas, to treat, you may need to see a periodontist.

Periodontal Disease and Cancer

According to a study that included a team from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, “Advanced gum disease…is caused by a bacterial infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. Previous research has shown a link between periodontitis and increased cancer risk, although the exact mechanism connecting the two diseases is still uncertain.”

The researchers also found, “A 24 percent increase in the relative risk of developing cancer among participants with severe periodontitis, compared to those with mild to no periodontitis. The highest risk was observed in cases of lung cancer, followed by colorectal cancer.” The risk for various types of cancer was even higher in participants who had lost their teeth due to periodontal disease.

Clearly, the link between cancer and gum disease is evident, but it is still being researched so we can learn even more about the connection.

Periodontal Disease and Stroke

There have been studies to show that periodontal disease could lead to an increased risk of stroke.

According to two studies presented in 2018 at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, gum disease, periodontitis, and periodontal disease have been linked to a “higher rate of strokes caused by the hardening of large arteries in the brain and also with severe artery blockages that haven’t yet caused symptoms.”

By seeking treatment for general dentistry and early gum disease you can prevent it from advancing to periodontal disease, you may also be reducing your risk of stroke.

Caring for Your Gums at Home

At-home care of your teeth and gums is imperative to keeping your mouth, cardiovascular, and other systems healthy. Here are some tips to care for your teeth and gums properly:

  • Use the right toothbrush—a soft-bristled toothbrush is highly recommended
  • Don’t brush too hard—brushing too long or too aggressively can damage your gums
  • Floss twice per day
  • Avoid too much sugar
  • Avoid smoking
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste if your Burkburnett general dentist recommends one
  • Visit your dentist at the first sign of bleeding, swollen, red, painful gums
  • Schedule twice-yearly dental exams and cleanings

Practice Good Gum Care Today 

If you’re overdue for a dental exam and cleaning, please call Burkburnett Family Dental (940) 569-4901 to schedule an appointment. You may also fill out an online contact form, and one of our dental team members will reach out shortly to schedule an appointment or answer any questions you may have.

Preventing gum disease is the best way to prevent unhealthy gums from affecting your general health. If it’s too late to prevent gum disease, then early treatment is the next best way to keep your mouth and body healthy.