When you think about your oral health, you probably think about your teeth, but you may not give a lot of thought to your gums. Believe it or not, the health of your gums is equally as important as the health of your teeth when it comes to overall oral health. In fact, gum disease can cause a whole host of medical problems, the least of which is inflammation of the gums. It can also be responsible for tooth loss and jaw bone loss, and it can allow dangerous bacteria into the bloodstream that can contribute to everything from cancer to diabetes.
The newest study to be released about oral hygiene has more grim news for sufferers of gum disease. According to a presentation by the University of South Carolina at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, gum disease has a direct link to stroke.
A stroke is an interruption of blood to the brain, which is usually caused by a blocked artery. Strokes can be fatal, but can also cause paralysis, weakness and fatigue.
The connection between stroke and gum disease is believed to be caused by the bacteria from the gums hardening the arteries in the brain. This in turn cuts off the blood supply to the brain, causing the stroke.
So, how prevalent are the risks? According to the University of South Carolina report, researchers studied data from 250 stroke survivors and found that, among patients with gum disease, those who had ischemic strokes (caused by hardened arteries) were twice as likely to have gum disease, and those with gum disease were three times more likely to have a stroke.
The bad news is that we know there’s a strong link between stroke and gum disease. The good news? Gum disease isn’t just treatable – it’s preventable. By adopting an excellent oral health routine, you can protect your teeth and gums from gum disease. This means flossing once a day and brushing at least twice a day for at least two minutes at a time.
If you already have gum disease or suspect you may have gum disease, speak to Dr. Mingus about treating the problem as soon as possible. It could not only save your teeth and gums, but also your life.