The link between gum disease and heart health

Did you know, that there could be a connection between the health of your gums and the health of your heart? According to the Academy of General Dentistry, people who have chronic gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack.

There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is gum inflammation, whereas periodontal disease is a serious gum disease. Gingivitis begins with bacterial growth in your mouth, and if not properly treated, can lead to tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue around your teeth. Gingivitis will come first, and if not properly treated, will develop into periodontal disease.

There are several things that can cause gum disease.

  • Illness: several disease including HIV and cancer can lower your body’s ability to fight bacteria.
  • Medications: certain medications can affect the health of your mouth by causing dry mouth or abnormal growths in the mouth
  • Poor Oral Hygiene Habits: neglecting to brush and floss your teeth daily can cause infections in the gums
  • Bad Habits: smoking can sometimes make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself, therefore making it harder for your mouth to heal itself from bacterial infections
  • Hormonal Changes: this includes hormonal fluctuations during menopause, pregnancy, puberty and monthly menstruation. Experiencing these can make gums more sensitive, allowing gingivitis to develop

How do you know if you have gum disease?
The symptoms you could experience with gum disease include:

  • Receding gums
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Persistent bad breath of bad taste in the mouth
  • Bleeding gums after brushing

How this affects your heart health
Because the mouth is referred to as “the pathway to the body,” its health is a way to judge a person’s overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with moderate or advanced gum disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.

A recent study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association studied 657 people with known heart disease. It was noted that these people had higher blood levels of certain disease-causing bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to atherosclerosis of the carotid artery in the neck that can lead to stroke. Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries that develops when fats and other substances in your blood begin to stick to the sides of your arteries, leading to a stroke or a heart attack.

More than 90 percent of all systematic diseases—including heart disease—have oral symptoms. In some cases, dentists can help patients with a history of heart disease by examining them for infection or inflammation that could indicate heart problems.

What can you do to prevent gum disease and possible heart problems?
• Brush for 2-3 minutes twice per day, making sure to brush your teeth as well as your gums
• Floss daily
• Eat a healthy diet that provides essential nutrients
• Avoid tobacco
• Schedule regular dentist check-ups and cleanings

If you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to see a dentist right away. At Shane McDowell DMD, we want to make sure that your mouth is healthy, so the rest of you can be healthy too! Call us to set up an appointment today, at 239-936-0597 or email us at

What is gum disease?

shutterstock_28627237Gum disease is also referred to as periodontal disease. It is an inflammation of the gums that could lead to the loss of tissue that holds your teeth in place. The main cause of gum disease is the consistent formation of plaque, bacteria, on teeth. When the plaque isn’t removed properly, it can actually cause your gums to start pulling or moving away from the teeth. Plaque that doesn’t get brushed or cleaned off your teeth can also harden and form what’s called “calculus” or tartar under your gums. This tartar will then make it even more difficult to properly remove plaque from teeth and could cause gum disease.

There are many reasons to be aware of the causes and ways to prevent gum disease. As a dentist, I can tell you that the number one reason for tooth loss in adults is gum disease. Furthermore, gum disease is also linked to coronary artery disease and other systemic diseases.

Gum disease is preventable and oftentimes reversible. The sooner you treat it, the better. Below are some symptoms and warning signs of gum disease:

  • Gums that appear red and swollen and bleed easily when brushing or flossing
  • Gums that look like they’ve pulled away from your teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • The appearance of pus between teeth and gums
  • Teeth that feel loose or like they are moving away from one another

We also want to share the ways to prevent gum disease include:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush for two minutes per session
  • Clean between your teeth at least once daily with floss or another ADA approved interdental cleaner
  • Visit the Shane McDowell Dentistry for your regular checkup and cleaning

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms for gum disease noted above, please contact us today to schedule your next appointment. We care about your daily oral health routine and look forward to continuing to serve you! For more information or to schedule an appointment with us, please visit our website at or call (239) 936-0597.

Drink Green Tea for a Healthy Smile

green teaWhat you eat and drink directly impacts the health of your teeth and gums. With all of the drinks selection available, one of the best drinks for your oral health may be brewed tea! A review of existing studies show that drinking brewed teas results in less enamel loss than drinking soft drinks and fruit juices and that the effect of tea on tooth enamel is similar to that of water.

What are the Benefits of Drinking Green Tea?

Scientific studies are beginning to show the potential health benefits of drinking green tea, especially in weight loss, heart health, and oral health. Green tea’s ability to help reduce symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease may be due to the presence of the antioxidant catechin and the compounds called polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that cause plaque. By interfering with the body’s inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria, green tea may actually help promote oral health, and ward off further gum disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about healthy habits for your mouth, we invite you to call our personable staff today at 239-936-0597 or visit our website at to make an appointment.

How Periodontal Disease Affects Your Overall Health?

Did you know unhealthy teeth can lead to more severe health problems? This is just another reason it is so important to prevent and treat periodontal disease. Here we list a few health problems linked to periodontal disease and gingivitis:


Inflammation is a major issue for diabetics and a risk factor for those who might develop diabetes. Research suggests that oral inflammation from periodontal disease can be detrimental to controlling diabetes. However, reducing oral inflammation through the treatment of periodontal disease could have a positive effect on patients with diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease

Studies have also shown a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. While further research is needed to understand the relationship between these two diseases, it is likely oral infection is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which can affect quality of life and ultimately lead to heart attack or stroke.

Pregnancy Complications

Women who are pregnant or of child bearing age should be concerned about their oral health and consider dental care an important part of the prenatal regimen. Increasing evidence shows a link between preterm birth and other prenatal complications due to periodontal disease and gingivitis.

The two-fold solution for preventing health complications due to poor dental health is proper care at home and regular professional cleanings and examinations in our office. If a problem arises, it is important to detect and treat it early. Treatment options are individualized, but early intervention always leads to the best possible outcome. However, it is never too late.

Act now to protect your overall health. Make an appointment at today to find out how we can help you safeguard your health from head to toe.