Preventing Gum Disease When You’re at Risk for Heart Disease
Gum Disease and Heart Disease continued...
If you don't floss every day, it's time to join the other half. Again, ask your dentist or hygienist for tips. Be gentle -- vigorously sawing at your gums will make things worse. If you have trouble holding the floss correctly, a simple device called a floss holder might help.
Get your teeth cleaned every six months
Regular dental cleanings and checkups are crucial for everybody -- and especially for people at risk of heart disease. Cleanings will keep plaque and tartar under control. If you do wind up developing gum disease, your dentist will catch it early.
Generally, experts recommend dental cleanings twice a year. Some people need them more often. Ask your dentist or hygienist what he or she recommends.
Consider an antiseptic mouthwash
If you have a problem with bacterial build-up in your mouth, your dentist might recommend an antiseptic mouthwash as an insurance policy. Some are available by prescription. However, don't think that swishing some mouthwash is a good alternative to brushing and flossing. It isn't.
If you don't smoke, great. But if you do, it's time to make an attempt -- or another attempt -- at quitting. You probably know that smoking is bad for your heart. You might not know that smoking is one of the top causes of gum disease; smoking also makes existing gum disease worse. People who smoke are up to seven times more likely to have bone loss in the jaw. Smoking can even prevent treatments for gum disease from working.
Ask about antibiotics before surgery
Some people with serious heart problems need a course of antibiotics before they get any oral surgery -- for gum disease or anything else. Why? It lowers the risk of bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream and causing an infection of the heart called endocarditis.
This precaution only applies to people with specific conditions. If you have heart problems and need dental surgery, always ask your dentist -- or cardiologist -- beforehand.
Take care of other medical problems
Heart disease isn't the only condition linked with gum disease. Studies have found that having diabetes increases the risk of developing periodontitis, too. In turn, gum disease seems to worsen blood sugar levels in people with diabetes -- and diabetes can worsen heart disease. Oral health problems have been linked with many conditions, like respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease.
The health of your gums may be connected not just to your heart, but to your overall health. Focusing on one medical problem while letting others slide won’t work. Good general medical and dental care -- and sticking to the recommendations of your healthcare providers -- can have far-reaching benefits.
Tell your dentist and doctors about all the medicines and supplements you take