Is There a Connection Between Gum Disease and Strokes?
Is there a connection between gum disease and strokes and if so, how can we take better care of our teeth? Strokes are the fifth common cause of death in the US. 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. As we learn more about how our oral health impacts our overall health, we have to wonder is there a link between gum disease and strokes.
What is a Stroke
A stroke is caused when a blood vessel bursts in the brain, or when oxygen to the brain is blocked by a blood clot.
Strokes cause physical signs such as:
- A drooping face
- Weakness in the arm
- Slurred or impaired speech
A stroke can happen to anyone, at any age, though they are more common in:
- People who are 65 and older
- African Americans
- People who lead sedentary lives or smoke or are overweight
Recent studies have shown that people who have suffered a stroke, typically had poor oral health with gum disease.
What is Gum Disease
Gum disease has multiple stages. In the first stage, bacteria build up, causing the gums to become inflamed and to bleed when you brush your teeth. Although the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly rooted. At this stage, no irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred.
When this first stage is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. In a patient with periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets collect food and can become infected.
The best way to avoid gum disease is to maintain proper dental hygiene and follow your dentist’s guidelines:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day
- Floss daily
- Chew sugar-free gum
- See your dentist twice a year for a check-up
What is the connection between gum disease and strokes?
Studies have shown that the abundance of bacteria, associated with gum disease, can get in the bloodstream, causing inflammation that makes the blood more likely to clot, which in turn can lead to a stroke.
More in-depth studies are underway to determine whether inflammation from gum disease results in vascular inflammation, or the other way around. In fact, the inflammation associated with gum disease has also been linked to conditions such as certain types cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
With so many people effected by gum disease and strokes, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of your oral health.
Patients who have suffered a stroke may need support in maintaining oral health care, especially if they have cognitive or physical limitations which prevent them from remembering to complete or perform the tasks regularly.
The office of Dr. Abeyta strives to be the best choice for quality care and overall excellence. They invest in education for themselves and their patients to support our commitment to excellence and empower patients with the knowledge they need to achieve whatever goals they have for their health. Our team is honored to partner with you in caring for your health. Call today to schedule an appointment at (505) 293-7611.