Today, we’re going to share important info about your dental health and arteries. It’s crucial you read this, especially if you brush off your dentist when he or she reminds you to floss! Or if brushing is a rushed, once-a-day, event for you.
Why does that make your interventional radiologists worry? Well, as it turns out, ignoring your dental health could be hurting more than just your teeth. Here’s why:
Gum Disease Affects Your Heart Health
Over time, poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease like gingivitis. When gingivitis sets in, however, the bacteria from your gums doesn’t stay put in your mouth! As it turns out, that bacteria can release toxins that enter your bloodstream. Those toxins contribute to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. And when fatty plaque narrows your arteries, you may develop Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) PAD limits the amount of blood flow reaching your legs and feet. It is a painful condition that makes it difficult to exercise or even walk. PAD can also increase your risk of forming blood clots.
How to Recognize Gum Disease
The best way to keep your gums from hurting your arteries is to protect those gums with proper care. Brush your teeth, twice a day, for two minutes at a time. Ideally, you should floss after every meal, but aim for at least once a day, before you go to bed, so food stuck between your teeth doesn’t linger overnight, causing problems.
And, even with a proper dental care routine, it’s important to learn the early warning signs of gum disease. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should see your dentist right away:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth come together when you bite down
Dental Health and Arteries: How to Tell if Your Arteries are OK
Even if your dental health seems alright, you need to understand your PAD risk. You can take our online PAD risk assessment. Or you can try this easy at-home exercise.
First, lie on the floor and raise your feet in the air. Then, bend your legs so they’re at a 45-degree angle to your body. Now, hold your position. After a few minutes, take a look at your feet and take note of their color. If they’re white or very pale, you may already have circulation problems. Even if only one of your feet looks off in color, you could already be in danger.
Remember: your peripheral arteries get blood to your feet. So, if they’re clogged, your muscles won’t get enough oxygen. Left unchecked, this can lead to pain or numbness in your legs, in addition to changes in your skin color. All of these are common PAD symptoms. And, left untreated, PAD can trigger a heart attack or stroke. Which is why it’s crucial to protect your dental health and arteries.
Protecting Your Arteries From Gum Disease
If you have a confirmed case of gingivitis, you should take steps to protect your arteries, especially if you’ve been told you’re at risk for heart problems. If you’ve been diagnosed with gingivitis or another gum condition, it’s a good idea to schedule a diagnostic arterial scan to make sure problems in your mouth haven’t spread throughout your body. Reach out today for an immediate appointment, to prevent problems with your teeth from spreading to the rest of your body!