Your Guide to Gum Disease Symptoms and Heart Disease
Could gum disease be harming your heart? Learn how to spot problems and practice good oral care.
Other conditions and problems can increase your risk of developing
periodontal disease. They include:
Certain illnesses. Any conditions that affect your immune
system or your ability to heal, including diabetes and arthritis, can put you
at higher risk of periodontal disease.
Side effects to medication. To have a healthy mouth, you
need plenty of saliva to fight bacteria. However, many drugs, such as those for
depression, heart disease, and other conditions, can cause a dry mouth, which
can make you more prone to infection.
Here are some tips to prevent gum disease and dental problems:
Brush your teeth twice a day. Cram cautions that while we
all think we know how to brush our teeth, many of us don't. "It's not just
how often you brush, but how thoroughly you do it," says Cram.
Bad brushing technique can actually make gum disease worse. "If you
brush too hard from side to side, you can miss the pockets of plaque and
actually abrade or tear the gums," says Cram. "That can lead to more
infection." Instead, make a circular motion with your toothbrush, which
helps the bristles clear out any debris in the gaps between the gums and
Cram strongly recommends that you check in with your dentist or dental
hygienist to make sure that you've got good technique. You can also see how to
brush and floss well with the animated WebMD Health tool,
Brushing Your Teeth Properly.
Floss at least once a day. Again, Cram says that though
flossing seems easy, many people don't do it well. She recommends that you ask
your dentist or dental hygienist if you're doing it properly. See the tool
above for flossing tips.
Use antiseptic mouthwash and toothpaste, if your dentist recommends
it. These aren't necessary for everyone, but Cram says that they can
help some people who have trouble controlling the amount of plaque and bacteria
in their mouths.
Get regular checkups and cleanings. Most people should
have a checkup every six months, but some people may need more frequent visits,
says Gordon Douglass, DDS, past president of the American Academy of
Eat healthy foods. "Vitamin deficiencies can make it
harder for your body to fight off infection and heal," Cram tells WebMD.
"So make sure to eat a good balanced diet with adequate vitamins and
Stop smoking. Here's yet another reason to kick the habit.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, smoking may be one of the
most significant risk factors for periodontal disease.
"The good news is that, with a commonsense approach, periodontal disease
is totally preventable," says Cram. Which may turn out to be great news for
your heart as well.