Gum disease is one of the most common forms of infection that people fall prey to. In fact, it can affect anyone. But what few people know is that it can raise your risk for heart disease.
There are two stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis, the mild form, does not cause much pain, but it does cause the gums to bleed. If untreated, gingivitis will progress to periodontal disease, which spreads below the gum line, causing the gums to recede and creating deep pockets where bacteria can fester and grow.
Such bacteria can also seep into the bloodstream and travel to the heart, resulting in chronic inflammation.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, a colorless, sticky, substance that irritates the gums and causes the tissue to break down. With time, this plaque hardens into tartar, which must be scraped off by a dental hygienist.
It has become increasingly clear that in order to protect your heart, you must pay attention to your teeth! To fight gum disease, take the following steps:
• Brush and floss your teeth after every meal
• See your doctor for regular dental checkups and cleanings
• Don’t use tobacco products
• Take 3,000 mg of vitamin C a day to maintain healthy gums
Smoking not only contributes to gum disease, it also causes inflammation on its own. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals and compounds, many of which are poisonous.
Even low levels of smoke exposure, including exposures to secondhand tobacco smoke, lead to a sharp increase in inflammation of the lining of the blood vessels, which are implicated in heart attacks and stroke.
Cigarette smoke also makes blood more likely to clot, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
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