Mark D. Phipps, D.D.S. - Implants & General Dentistry
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Gum Disease Links to Heart Disease and Stroke

Preventing gum disease is gaining new urgency as research reveals a significant connection to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pneumonia.
Gum disease (periodontitis) can contribute to these illnesses through a spillover of bacteria and inflammatory agents from the mouth into the bloodstream, which carries them to the rest of the body.
Diabetes and Gum Disease: Gum disease and diabetes counteract with ying-yang synergy; because diabetes can affectcirculation, it can restrict blood flow to the gums, making a person more susceptible to gum disease. Research suggests that treating periodontal disease can improve blood-sugar control. In fact some insurance companies already offer patients withdiabetes extended coveragefor periodontal treatments.
Heart Disease and Gum Disease: Having gum disease can increase a person’s risk of heart disease. Studies also suggest that adults with the highest levels of some oral bacteria have thicker carotid arteries, a predictor of heart attack and stroke. And people who suffer from angina (chest pain) and heart attacks have higher levels of certain oral bacteria. Plus, oral bacteria provoke inflammation, which may increase levels of white blood cells and C-reactive protein, known as CRP. This protein, which is found in the blood, has been linked to heart disease. In a recent trial, periodontal therapy reduced patients’ CRP levels. In a related report, it recommends that patients ask their doctors to test for CRP the next time their cholesterol is checked; that’s one of ten tips for a healthy heart.
Pneumonia and Gum Disease: Poor oral hygiene has been shown to contribute to fatal pneumonias in hospital patients and nursing-home residents. In those settings, lax oral hygiene can foster a buildup of bacteria capable of causing respiratory infections.
Follow the ABCs of good oral care:
  • Eat a diet high in calcium and vitamins C and D and avoid sugary foods.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque and bacteria.
  • Get your teeth cleaned at least twice a year.
  • If you smoke, have periodontal disease or diabetes, more frequent dental hygiene visits may be recommended.
  • You may be required to take antibiotics prior to dental procedures as determined by your medical doctor in consultation with Dr. Phipps.  

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