How Gum Disease Plays a Part in Diabetes and Heart Disease

General, Cosmetic, and TMJ Dentists Serving Arlington, South Riding, and Nearby Areas of Northern Virginia


November is American Diabetes Month, which makes this a good time to reflect on how inter-connected our bodies' systems really are. Problems in one area of your body don't stay there – they can affect your overall level of health in ways you wouldn't necessarily expect.

One point our Arlington dentists make in conversation with patients is that there is a strong link between your oral health and your general health. Put simply, it's hard to maintain a healthy body if you have unhealthy teeth and gums.

There are two particularly striking links worth examining at greater length: the connection between gum disease and diabetes and gum disease and potentially fatal heart conditions.

Gum Disease and Diabetes

gum disease and diabetes - Arlington dentistOn one level, we thoroughly understand the link between diabetes and gum disease. Diabetes makes it difficult for your body to control and regulate your natural blood sugar levels. And since many damaging forms of plaque and bacteria flourish in sugars, these unregulated sugars – especially glucose – can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums.

As such, those with poorly controlled diabetes tend to suffer from gum disease at a higher rate than those without diabetes. We can see, then, that there's a clear connection between diabetes and gum disease going in one direction.

However, many doctors and dentists believe the connection runs the other way as well: in other words, untreated gum disease might increase your risk of diabetes. The exact nature of that connection is still a matter of scientific discussion, but many argue that the germs in your gums can “leak” into your bloodstream, eventually raising your blood sugar levels.

Of course, you don't need to completely understand the science involved to understand the important point: gum disease and diabetes are related, and it's vital that you keep your teeth and gums healthy, whether you have diabetes or not.

Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans die as a result of preventable heart disease.

As such, it's vital that you take steps to keep your heart healthy. Believe it or not, one of the best things you can do for your heart is to keep your gums free of disease.

There is significant data indicating that gum disease can contribute to the development of heart disease. How? Remember that gum disease is a bacterial infection. When you brush, floss or even just swallow, some of the bacteria in your mouth find its way into your bloodstream.

Some scientists believe that this bacteria attaches to the fatty deposits in your heart's blood vessels. These can form clots that – eventually – cause heart attacks.

The takeaway from this research is that you need to carefully monitor and protect the health of your gums, especially if you suffer from heart disease. Commit to a strict dental hygiene regimen – brush your teeth twice a day, floss on a daily basis and visit our dentist every six months. We have a number of dental services we can offer you to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.

If you're looking for an experienced dentist in the Arlington, Virginia area, please call Arlington Dental Aesthetics today at 703-527-1020 for an appointment.