Gum Disease & Risk of Stroke

Gum disease is a very common oral health issue. The symptoms include swollen and bleeding gums caused by a bacterial infection. While it may not seem severe, there is an alarming statistic that suggests it may be more serious than previously thought. Studies show that having gum disease doubles your chances of suffering a stroke. 

That means that you are twice as likely to have a stroke if you suffer from gum disease. The question is why? What is it about gum disease that can lead to having a stroke? 

How Gum Disease Can Cause a Stroke

Bleeding gums and inflammation from gum disease can lead to changes in the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Large arteries in the brain can become hardened which increases the risk of blockages. A reduction or blockage of blood flow and oxygen to the brain leads to a stroke. A stroke can result in permanent brain damage and can be fatal if severe enough. 

Signs of Gum Disease

Noticing the signs and symptoms of gum disease early can help you get the condition treated and significantly reduce your risk of stroke. Here’s what to look for:

  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Red gums (natural gum color is pink or flesh color)
  • Receding gums (gums that have pulled away from the teeth)
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Any other unusual gum symptoms

If you notice any of the above, you may be in the early or even advanced stages of gum disease. Catching gum disease early when the gums are only slightly inflamed and before gums start to recede or teeth become loose can reduce your stroke risk. 

Treatment for Gum Disease

There are a range of treatment options for gum disease that range from a professional dental cleaning to surgical procedures. The best course of treatment will depend on the severity and the cause of your gum disease. Treatment options include:

  • A thorough dental cleaning. Sometimes all that is needed is a thorough professional dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar that builds up along the gum line. Remove what is feeding the bacteria and the infection goes away.

  • Scaling and root planing. When plaque and tartar build up beneath the gum line, scaling is a procedure used to scrape it away. Planing involves smoothing out rough spots on the roots of the teeth to prevent bacteria from building up.

  • Surgical procedures. Sometimes it is necessary for the dentist to go way beneath the gum line to clean out plaque and tartar, requiring cutting into the gums. Other procedures like bone grafts and soft tissue grafts are used to restore bone and gum tissue that has been lost. 

Preventing Gum Disease

Prevention is always the best medicine. Proper oral hygiene and gum care can prevent gum disease from getting a foothold. Here are the best steps to take to avoid gum disease:

  • Regular Dental Care. It is important to see your dentist for cleanings at least every 6 months. If you suffer from chronic and recurring gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings.

  • Good Oral Hygiene. Between professional cleanings, it is important to practice good oral hygiene habits at home, like brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
  • Avoid Smoking. Smoking is linked to multiple oral health issues from gum disease to oral cancer.

  • Eat Healthy Foods. Following a healthy diet full of crunchy vegetables and fruits as well as dairy foods like milk and cheese are said to be good for your teeth. Avoid sugary foods and beverages. 

Preventing gum disease will significantly reduce your chances of suffering a stroke, and these steps are crucial to prevention. 

Visit Creekview Dental for Regular Oral Care

Preventing gum disease is easier when you are under the routine care of a dentist. Schedule regular appointments at Creekview Dental to have your teeth cleaned and your oral health examined. Professional tooth and gum care can improve your overall health in other ways as well. 

Call (651) 738-8204 today or contact us to request an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain excellent oral and general health.