Your mouth isn’t separate from the rest of your body. The health problems in your mouth can have a serious impact on the health of the rest of your body.
So although your dentist may focus on your teeth and gums, the benefits go far beyond there. Take for example this new study showing that gum disease will double your risk of stroke. Fortunately, it also shows that going to your dentist regularly can help reduce your stroke risk.
How Gum Disease Is Linked to Stroke
Your mouth is the gateway to your body. Everything in your mouth has multiple routes of entry, especially oral bacteria. Oral bacteria can be inhaled, and they’ve been linked to pneumonia. Oral bacteria can be swallowed, and it’s been shown that unhealthy bacteria in the mouth contribute to unhealthy gut bacteria.
But perhaps the most serious route that bacteria use to enter the body is through the blood. Bacteria can enter bleeding gums and travel directly to the heart. They can infect the heart, but they are more likely to cling to the walls of your arteries. Living oral bacteria are a common component of arterial plaque. New research also indicates that much of the fat that collects in your arteries is also produced by oral bacteria and doesn’t come from your food at all.
It’s this arterial plaque that breaks off to cause strokes by clogging blood vessels in the brain. So if you have more oral bacteria, you’re likely to have a higher stroke risk, as this new study shows.
A Community-Based Study
This study is useful because it followed a lot of people for a long time. The study included nearly 7000 people who had teeth and no history of stroke. At the start of the study, they were all assessed for gum disease, and broken into classes based on how severe their gum disease was. Then these patients were monitored for 15 years.
The study showed that the worse your gum disease, the higher your risk of stroke. People with healthy gums had about 1.3 strokes per 1000 patient years. However, people with the most severe class of gum disease experienced 5.0 strokes per 1000 patient years, nearly four times as many!
Regular Dental Visits Reduce Your Risk
The study also looked at whether going to your dentist regularly could help control stroke risk. To do this, they divided their population into two categories: those who saw their dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings and those who only saw their dentist when they had a problem.
They found that those who went to their dentist for preventive care had a 23% lower stroke risk than those who only went to their dentist when they had a problem.
This study has its limitations, but the size of the population and the length of the follow up show that these conclusions are likely accurate.
If you’re looking for a caring dentist in Pueblo to help care for your mouth and improve your overall health, please call (719) 545-1400 today for an appointment with a dentist at Advantage Dental Group.