How Does Oral Health Affect Heart Health?

heart health month

February marks the beginning of a month-long dedication to heart health. It’s officially known as American Heart Month, and its purpose is to raise awareness of the risks associated with heart disease. Many people know that things like smoking and a poor diet can cause troubles with the heart, but at our dental office in Kettering, we also know that your oral health can affect your heart health.

The Mouth is the Window to Whole-Body Health

You may have heard the expression that the eyes are the window to the soul, and while that may be true, another part of your body can tell you a lot about your overall wellbeing. The truth is, your mouth can give your dentist in Kettering insight to other problems that may be going on in the rest of your body. More specifically, researchers have found a connection between gum disease and an increased risk for heart disease.

More About Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious dental problem that requires early treatment to resolve. Without proper intervention, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other health concerns throughout the body. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) has concluded that people who have gum disease are at increased risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. This happens because the bacteria that cause gum disease have a pretty easy path into the bloodstream and can raise the levels of something called C-reactive protein (CRP). High levels of CRP can cause some scary problems such as:

  • Blood clots
  • Stroke
  • Inflamed arteries
  • Heart attack

Signs of Gum Disease

Some of the most common signs of gum disease are easy to explain away and some may think they’re actually normal. However, any of the following signs could mean that you may have gum disease.

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Consistently bad breath
  • Chronic bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth

If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, it’s important to see your Kettering dentist as soon as possible.

The team at our Kettering dental office wants to encourage all of our patients and neighbors to practice a good oral hygiene routine at home as well as get professional teeth cleanings and dental checkups at least twice a year. These appointments can help catch and treat gum disease before it has a chance to cause bigger, more serious complications.  

Don’t leave your heart at risk, call to schedule an appointment today. We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

Can Stress Affect Oral Health?

woman with stress

Being stressed out is stressful enough, but knowing that constant or repeated high levels of stress can actually affect your health and make you sick certainly doesn’t help either. Too much stress can cause serious health issues throughout the body including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity. But the concerns don’t end there. Our dental office in Kettering also wants our patients to know that high stress can also affect oral health.

Clenching & Grinding

During periods of increased stress, a common and automatic response may be to clench our teeth together or even grind them against each other. If either of these habits is done too often, it could result in chipped, broken, or cracked teeth as well as damage to the jaw joint. The constant force put on the jaw joint during repeated clenching can make the muscles sore and eventually cause TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder, or TMD, tends to be painful and may also cause popping, clicking, or a locked joint. In order to get relief, your dentist in Kettering will need to find the best TMJ treatment for your individual case.

Gum Disease

When many people think of gum disease they often immediately assume it was caused by poor dental hygiene. But there are several other factors that can put you at increased risk including smoking, medications, clenching or grinding your teeth, and stress. Gum disease is a serious condition that not only affects your mouth but also your whole body. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, heart disease, and increase the risk for stroke.

Lower Your Stress & Protect Your Health

Stress is a natural part of life, but there are things you can do to help protect your health against the negative side effects of too much of it.

  • Take a Deep Breath. Believe it or not, sometimes all you need to reduce stress is a few minutes of deep breathing. Focusing on your breath can lower your heart rate and help you feel more relaxed almost instantly.
  • Work up a Sweat. Exercising regularly increases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone. These chemicals are known to help make us feel good and combat anxiety and stress. Go for a walk, do some yoga, swim some laps. Whatever you do… just get moving.
  • Sleep it Off. It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours a sleep every night, but many of us don’t. A thorough night’s sleep can reboot your body, lower stress, and give your body a chance to recover.

Nobody likes feeling stressed, and nobody wants to put their health at risk because of it. Commit to finding ways to help you relax, handle stress better, and keep anxiety low.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

How Diabetes Affects Oral Health

diabetic testing

When it comes to all of the health complications that can go hand-in-hand with diabetes, oral health is often overlooked. At our Kettering dental office, we want our patients and neighbors to know just how drastically diabetes can affect oral health, and precautions that those with diabetes should take to keep their mouths healthy.

The Diabetic and Oral Health Connection

All diabetics know that diabetes directly affects blood sugar, also known as glucose. Glucose is important for our bodies as it fuels our brains and provides muscles with energy. But when someone has diabetes, their body is unable to properly regulate insulin, causing glucose levels to rise. If left untreated or if blood glucose levels aren’t managed properly, diabetes can raise the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other whole body health problems. Diabetes can also increase the likelihood of developing gum disease, infections, and dry mouth.  To help reduce the risk of these additional health problems, follow the tips below.

  • Keep Blood Sugar Numbers Stable

Even though diabetics are at more risk for serious health problems, proper management of glucose levels can minimize that risk. Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and they all need to work hard to keep their blood sugar numbers within a healthy range. In fact, it’s one of the best ways that diabetics can lower their chances of developing other health complications as a result of diabetes.

  • Eat Well

Everyone, whether diabetic or not, should do everything they can to eat a well-balanced diet. Fueling your body with fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and proteins can do wonders in protecting overall health and keeping glucose levels in check. Limiting sugary foods and drinks is great for managing your diabetes and is something your dentist in Kettering recommends.

  • Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day not only helps protect teeth, but can also help protect against increased blood sugar. Without a good hygiene routine, oral health is put at risk for decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. This is concerning for anyone but particularly for diabetics. Gum disease is an infection that affects the gums, and like any type of infection, it can cause blood sugar to rise and make diabetes difficult to manage.

At our dental office in Kettering, we’re here to help our community get healthy and stay healthy, even when patients have health concerns that may not appear at first to have any effect on oral health. The truth is that many diseases, including diabetes, have a connection to the mouth. If you have diabetes and notice anything unusual about your oral health, do not hesitate to give us a call. We’re always happy to help or answer any questions you may have.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

Smoking and Your Oral Health

man smoking

By now we all know that smoking is bad for our health. It increases the risk for cancer, heart disease, and numerous other problems throughout the body. Your mouth is no exception. This November, during the Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society, our dental office in Middletown wants to help the cause of moving towards a smoke-free life by providing our community members with some more reasons to quit.

How Smoking Affects Your Oral Health

One of the commonly overlooked dangers of smoking is how it affects oral health. But it’s certainly a concern for your dentist in Middletown. The truth is, several oral health problems are directly related to smoking, and continuing to smoke can put you at increased risk for:

Tips to Quit

Smoking is addictive and therefore not easy to quit. Some people even try quitting multiple times before they succeed at never picking up another cigarette. We understand how difficult quitting can be and are here to provide support for anyone looking to improve their health by never lighting up again.

  • Find a Support Team. Trying to do something as difficult as quitting smoking isn’t easy to do on your own. Sometimes it’s made easier by finding trusted friends, family members, or health professionals to help. Make sure your chosen quit team can be supportive in the way you need them to be and set up a plan with them.
  • Identify Your Reasons to Quit. Writing out a physical list of why you want to quit smoking can be a great first step to success. Seeing your reasons on paper may help them feel more ‘real.’ When you have a strong craving, get out your list and remind yourself all of the reasons why quitting is important.
  • Know Your Triggers. Part of what can make quitting so difficult is that smokers often develop a routine to when they smoke — on the car ride to work, when drinking alcohol, drinking coffee in the morning, to name a few. While some triggers may be harder to avoid than others, try your best to steer clear of anything that will make you want to light up.
  • Find Alternatives. Another thing that makes it difficult to quit smoking is that smokers get so used to having something in their hand that when they suddenly don’t, it feels uncomfortable. Keep your hands busy by holding a pencil or straw. This can mimic the feeling of a cigarette and ease the mind.

This year’s Great American Smokeout can be your time to finally quit smoking. On November 15, make a plan to quit and stick to it. Select a quit date and take the steps to become smoke free by that date. Your physician, along with our Middletown dental office, can also provide you with additional ways to help.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

What’s The Difference Between Gum Disease & Gingivitis?

worrying woman

Gum disease is often one term used to describe what are actually three different things. While each level of infection is recognized by a medical term all its own, they are all in fact an infection of the gums. At our dental office in Kettering, we want to help our neighbors identify each level of gum disease, educate them on the risk factors, and talk about the complications that may result if gum disease is left untreated.

Different Stages of Gum Disease

Gingivitis

Let’s start with the mildest form of gum disease — gingivitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and is classified by gum inflammation, redness, or maybe some bleeding while brushing and flossing. It’s caused when too much plaque builds up under the gum line. When caught before it has a chance to progress gingivitis can be treated and reversed.

Periodontitis

The next stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. When gingivitis isn’t treated, the plaque buildup can start to affect the bone and tissues that are responsible for keeping the teeth sturdy and in place. If this occurs, it usually can’t be undone and recommended treatment is more about limiting any more damage.

Advanced Periodontitis

The most severe form of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. During this stage, bones and tissues are seriously weakened which can cause teeth to shift, become loose, or fall out. While treatment may help stop any damage from progressing, the damage that has already occurred is irreversible.

Gum Disease Risk Factors

There are several factors that may put someone at greater risk for developing gum disease. Some of these risk factors are controllable while others are not. For example, genetics are thought to play a role in the development of gum disease, and we can’t do much about the way we’re built. However, we can reduce our risk by not smoking, brushing and flossing regularly, and eating a well-balanced diet.

Signs of Gum Disease

You may have heard gum disease described as a silent disease, but what does that mean? In the earliest stages of gum disease (gingivitis), a person may have little to no symptoms and never suspect a problem. But knowing what to keep an eye out for can help you identify gum disease early and while it’s still treatable.

  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Receding gums
  • Swollen, red gums

Gum Disease & Overall Health

If not treated early gum disease can lead to tooth loss and some other serious whole-body concerns. Numerous studies have shown that gum disease has been linked to serious medical conditions and diseases including:

  • Lung disease
  • Cancers
  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes

The best way to protect your smile from gum disease is to brushing and floss everyday and make sure to visit your dentist in Kettering at least twice a year.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental check, give our Kettering dental office a call to schedule an appointment today.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.