Why in the world would a dentist be part of your Heart Health Month Celebration? Shouldn’t you be seeing a cardiologist for that? Well, maybe. But seeing your Indianapolis dentist is much more important than you may think.
There have been lots of studies over the last few years that show a clear link between your gums and your heart, not only because these organs are part of the same body, but also because of the way inflammation and infection can affect your heart.
Why Gum Infections Can Give You a Heart Attack?
When there is a chronic infection in your body, even in something as seemingly small and insignificant as your gums, the bacteria don’t stay put. They enter the bloodstream and cause your body to produce more proteins such as C-reactive protein (CRP), one of the known indicators of cardiovascular disease. Study results published in The New England Journal of Medicine identified elevated CRP levels as an even more accurate predictor of heart attacks than elevated cholesterol levels!
What Exactly is C-Reactive Protein and What Does it Have to Do with Gums?
According to Dr. Thomas Boyden, Jr., the medical director of preventive cardiology at Spectrum Health Medical Group Cardiovascular Services, “Your gums are very vascular, meaning they’re full of blood vessels. And your mouth is full of bacteria. If you disrupt the gum layer even a little bit, you’re going to get bacteria in your bloodstream, which can go anywhere and trigger inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is one of the main things that causes damage to blood vessels, including those of the heart.”
That’s where C-reactive protein come in. This protein is produced by the liver and goes up in response to inflammation. When high levels of CRP are found in the body, doctors know that infection is present…and more often than not, that infection started in the mouth. In fact, more than 50% of Americans have some form of gum disease, and as a result, an increased risk for heart problems.
What Can You Do?
By following a healthy oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing everyday, avoiding tobacco, and keeping regularly scheduled appointments with your dentist in Indianapolis, you can lower your risk of gum disease and additional whole-body concerns.
I simply do not want my patients to be part of that statistic. If you are due for a checkup and cleaning, please give one of our Indianapolis dental offices a call today!