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Preventing Gum Disease When You’re at Risk for Heart Disease

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Gum Disease and Heart Disease continued...

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 health care providers -- can have far-reaching benefits.

Tell your dentist and doctors about all the medicines and supplements you take

You might not realize it, but some of your daily medicines could contribute to gum disease. Certain drugs for diabetes, allergies, depression, pain, and high blood pressure can have an effect on your oral health. If your dentist and health care team is aware of all the medicines you take, you'll be less likely to run into problems.

Live healthfully

Try to eat a well-balanced diet. There's no magic food that will cure gum disease, but getting enough calcium and vitamins in your diet could reduce the risk of periodontal disease. You should also make an effort to relax and lower the stress level in your life. Stress hormones like cortisol cause inflammation throughout the body -- that's bad for your gums and your heart.

Build a medical team

We once considered heart health and dental health as relatively unrelated. We know better now. The body is a single organism, after all. If you have heart disease, ideally your dentist or periodontist should work directly with your cardiologist. Think of them as members of your medical team. If you can collaborate with them and develop a treatment plan, you're bound to be healthier -- in more ways than you might expect.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael Friedman, DDS on October 02, 2014
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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