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Healthy gums may lower risk of heart disease, stroke
Updated: 2/28/2011 7:00:14 PM

Preventing periodontal disease can also promote overall heart wellbeing Dentists frequently tell their patients that poor oral health may result in periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, but individuals who do not heed their dentists' warnings may also be increasing their risk of developing serious cardiovascular conditions.

Periodontal disease is typically caused by plaque buildup that has been left untreated for a long period of time. Other dental problems such as crooked teeth, rough edges of fillings, and ill-fitting or unclean braces, dentures, bridges, or crowns can also irritate the gums and result in periodontal disease.

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) explains that the bacteria, which is produced at the sites of gum disease, can enter the blood stream and aid in the formation of blood clots. Normal blood flow and function may be obstructed by clots and can result in heart attack or stroke.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without the condition, the AAP adds.

Dentists may diagnose periodontal disease in patients who experience gum swelling, tenderness or bleeding. However, routine professional cleanings and diligent oral care will remove plaque and help avoid health complications.

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