When you brush your  teeth, do you see red on  your toothbrush bristles  or on your floss? Bleeding  when you clean your teeth is  often an indication that you  have inflammation in your  gums which is a sign of gum  disease. According to the  American Heart Association,  there is a strong association  between gum disease and  heart disease, and heart disease is the number one killer of both men and  women in the United States! 

Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal  disease, is an infection of the  tissues that surround and  support your teeth. When  you do not floss and brush  well, the sticky film of bacteria called plaque which is  constantly forming on your  teeth, begins a process of  inflammation that leads to  infection. This early stage of  gum disease is called gingivitis. If you have gingivitis,  your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily.  At this stage, the disease is  reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional  cleaning at your dental office  followed by daily brushing  and flossing. Advanced gum  disease is called periodontitis. It can lead to the loss of  tissue and bone that support  the teeth, and it may become  more severe over time,  causing the teeth to become  loose. Chronic periodontitis affects almost half of adults  over 30 in the United States and is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.  

While the exact link between gum disease and  heart disease remains  undetermined, there is a  growing suspicion that gum  disease is a significant risk  factor for heart disease. In  fact, we are finding that  people with gum disease  have two to three times the  risk of having a heart attack,  stroke, or other serious  cardiovascular event. 

Though it has not yet  been proven that treating  gum disease will prevent  heart disease, the connection  is compelling enough that both dentists and doctors  agree patients should strive  to prevent developing gum  disease in the first place.  To avoid gum disease and  maintain good oral health,  the American Dental  

Association suggests:  

  • Brushing twice a day with  an ADA-accepted fluoride  toothpaste. 
  • Cleaning between teeth  daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. 
  • Eating a balanced diet and  limiting between-meal  snacks. 
  • Visiting your dentist  regularly for oral examinations and professional cleanings. 

It should also be mentioned that in addition  to heart disease, gum disease has also been associated with health conditions such  as diabetes, pneumonia,  pregnancy complications,  dementia and more. For this  reason, we believe taking  care of your oral health is an  investment in your overall  health! If this Valentine’s  day you are seeing red when  cleaning your teeth, make  an appointment with your  dentist! 

2872 Johnson Ferry Road • 770-993-3775 • www.cheekdental.com