Gum Disease and Stroke

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gum disease wordsIt may be strange to think that your gums have an effect on your brain. But recent studies have suggested that infected gums are related to cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke. Your heart and brain are closely related to your teeth, and when your gums become infected, they can cause damage to both.

The mechanism that causes this is not completely understood. Scientists are only beginning to understand how your oral care affects the rest of your body. It is clear from early research that even minor gum disease has a profound impact on your heart, blood vessels, and even your brain.

If you think you may have gum disease, or if you’re having unusual symptoms inside your mouth, call the Babylon gum disease experts of Babylon Dental Care at (631) 983-6665 for an appointment today.

Table Of Contents

    Symptoms of Gum Disease

    How can you tell if you have gum disease? You could have it and not be aware of it, so it’s important to let your dentist know if you have any of these symptoms.

    • Bleeding when you brush or floss, especially if it gets worse over time
    • Your gums do not appear a healthy pink color but look dark red, irritated, or swollen
    • Your gums feel soft, tender, or hot
    • It is painful to chew, particularly if this is a new symptom. Some people have sensitive teeth, but if you never had this problem before, let your dentist know right away
    • Persistent bad breath

    Types of Gum Disease That Lead To Stroke

    Most people are familiar with mild gum disease known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is characterized by inflammation of the gums, with reddening and swelling and occasional bleeding. This mild inflammation can become more serious if not managed with better brushing and flossing.

    Periodontitis is the more serious form of the disease. As gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, there is actual damage to the gums, loss of tissue, and infection. Periodontitis can be serious and ultimately lead to tooth loss as the supportive tissue around the teeth is lost.

    How does this lead to stroke?

    Gum Disease and Infections

    It turns out that gingivitis is associated with a bacteria called P. gingivalis. It is P. gingivalis that causes the inflammation and swelling of the gum disease. As the gum tissue breaks down, the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and into the arteries. P. gingivalis has been found in the carotid arteries.

    Inflammation of the carotid arteries is a precursor to stroke. As the tissue of the arteries becomes inflamed, platelets, the blood component responsible for clotting, stick to the damaged artery walls. If enough of them stick together, they form a clot, and eventually, the clot can break loose and travel into the brain.

    A more serious gum infection, Streptococcus sp., has been found in the blood vessels of the brain, indicating the bacteria has traveled from the gums into the brain itself. Brain infection is highly dangerous and contributes to damaged arteries and potential stroke.

     

    Blocked Brain Arteries and Gum Disease

    blocked arteriesThe studies found that people with severe gum disease were more likely to suffer from stroke involving blood vessels deep within the brain. Those without gum disease suffered from stroke affecting vessels outside the skull.

    What this means is that those with gum disease tended to suffer strokes that damage large areas of the brain itself, while those without suffered strokes that cut off the blood supply to the outer areas of the brain. This had an impact on the degree of impairment and the speed of recovery.

    Those with gum disease were three times more likely to suffer strokes which impacted the back of the brain in areas that control vision, coordination, and vital bodily functions. Those without gum disease were not.

    Recurring Ischemic Attacks

    Beyond the considerable effect of an initial stroke, those with gum disease who had strokes remained at risk of a disorder called “intracranial atherosclerosis” (ICAS) or narrowed, hardened intracranial arteries of the brain. This leads to an increased risk of recurrent ischemic attacks, or repeated small, transient strokes. These, combined with the original impairment, can have a lasting impact on the patient’s ability to recover.

    The studies clearly showed that preexisting gum disease was both a marker for risk of stroke and created a higher level of damage in the patient due to chronic inflammation and infection because of the presence of bacteria.

    Recurrent ischemic attacks are sometimes called “silent strokes” because they have no obvious impact at the moment of the stroke, but they can have devastating lasting effects. It is believed that these silent strokes may be a cause of non-Alzheimer’s dementia, among other disabilities.

    healthy teeth man

    How Dental Care Can Help

    Gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth loss are not inevitable. If recognized and treated early, even tooth loss can be corrected. Gingivitis is the earliest sign of a gum problem and is readily treated with proper brushing and flossing.

    The dental team at Babylon Dental Care knows that when you visit your dentist regularly, they can detect gum disease before it becomes a problem and help you manage any issues right away.

    Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Flossing with an approved dental floss will remove bits of food and other particles from between your teeth. Your dentist may recommend an antiseptic mouthwash if you have difficulty flossing.

    Smoking, whether of tobacco or other products, is detrimental to your gums. If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, you should avoid the use of any tobacco products, including vaping.

    Scaling (scraping with a dental tool) and debridement (removal of dead tissue), known as a deep cleaning, is the only way to remove plaque and tartar that has built up below your gums. Your dentist will recommend the best ways to clean your teeth and gums if your gum disease has progressed to this stage.

    Contact Us Today

    It is never too late to correct gum disease. Contact Babylon Dental Care at (631) 983-6665 if you have any concerns about your oral health or believe you may have gum disease. We are standing by to help diagnose any problems and get you started on a proper course of treatment.

    Testimonials

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    “I have never been to a dentist office that is sooo welcoming. I am not a fan of going to the dentist at all but when my sister recommended to try them, my thoughts about the dentist completely changed. This dentist office is very professional and do really care about the patient. I was amazed at the follow up phone call, email, and text! I highly recommend this dentist office to anyone and everyone.”

    Jill S. from West Babylon

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    “Babylon Dental is the best! They are very flexible with their appointments and I am always greeted with a smile. I never have to wait very long once I am in the office and everyone is very professional. A truly great dental practice!”

    Lesley E. from West Babylon

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    “This whole practice is wonderful!!! EVERYONE!! I used to panic going to the dentist, but this office made me finally do the right thing and take care of my teeth. Never thought I’d like going to the dentist… Thanks to all of the dentists and everyone who works there…”

    Diane W. from West Islip

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    “I guess I could write this about every visit we’ve had for the past 25 years or so. Every visit we have, we’re treated like family…the good ones. Our options are always explained so we understand them & nothing is ever pushed on us. Thank you to everyone there.”

    Robert U. from Lindenhurst

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    “I always LOVE my experience at Babylon Dental! Everybody is so kind, from the receptionist at the front to the billing staff on the way out. The dentists are thorough, friendly, and very attentive. The dental assistants are so knowledgeable and warm! This is the ONLY dentist I would ever consider going to. Keep up the great work! I look forward to seeing you all again!”

    Erin M. from West Babylon

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    “This is the kindest, most compassionate office I have ever been to. Every person on staff is polite and courteous; not something you see too often these days. I ‘hated’ going to the dentist so much that I would only go when I had a problem. Since I started using Babylon Dental about 8 years ago, I go 2 to 3 times a year for a cleaning and just to make sure everything’s ok. I recommend this practice to everyone I know!”

    Nancie P. from West Babylon

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    “Everything went very well. The procedure was almost painless, and since it was my first cavity filling, I was surprised at how easy it was. Everyone was very nice and willing to answer any questions I had.”

    Andrew L. from West Islip

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    “The staff at Babylon Dental Care are by far the most professional people I’ve encountered. I was greeted with a smile from the minute I walked in and that continued throughout my entire visit. The office from the waiting room to the exam room were immaculate. Everything that was done during my visit was explained to me in detail which helps for someone with a fear of the dentist. The best experience I’ve ever had at a dental office.””

    Nickesha J. from Lindenhurst

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    “If you have a fear of the dentist, Babylon Dental Care is the place for you. I always have an amazing experience when I visit Babylon Dental Care and I used to be someone who was very afraid of the dentist. I highly recommend this dental practice for all of your dental needs. Fantastic group!”

    Robert P. from Freeport

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    “Who knew! I have always been afraid of the dentist because of a bad experience 25 years ago. This office renewed my comfort, and gave me the confidence to move forward and take care of dental work that should have been done years ago. The staff doctors and office personnel were so caring and receptive to my fear.”

    Loretta P. from Bay Shore

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    “I have been a patient of Babylon Dental since Dr. Brown’s Office was originally in TSS shopping Center- perhaps 26 years now? I am always pleased with the high quality, professional care that I receive. I would not go anywhere else! Also, Maritza is a wonderful dental hygienist!”

    Peter G. from Bating Hollow

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    “As a new patient, I was impressed by each staff member’s level of professionalism, friendliness, and knowledge. Dr. Brown gave me a thorough explanation of what was causing my dental issues, and how they could be fixed. I left feeling confident that I was in really good hands.”

    Alexandra H. from Lindenhurst

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    “As always, Dr. Brown made my experience most memorable! I look forward to coming, believe it or not.”

    Marie D. from Babylon

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    “First the reception area was beautifully decorated. Your office runs very smoothly and efficiently, plus the staff are professional, friendly and great at what they do. Best run office I’ve ever seen.”

    Michael C. from North Babylon

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    “Amazing. I am deathly afraid, and have been hurt by many dentists. But Melody, who did my x-rays and cleaning, was great. I was amazed how much they actually CARED about how I felt and was doing. Dr. Brown who read my x-rays sat and just talked To me not at me for a good 15/20 minutes. Didn't suggest root canals, posts n crowns, yell at me about my missing back teeth. He just talked to me about what is currently going on and his best suggestions to care for it, which didn't include root canals, extraction etc. Therefore I would highly recommend them. And thank you for a really positive experience”

    Pat M from Patchogue

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    “From the call center ( Jo ) to the front desk ( Jennifer) and of course Dr. Peck , highly recommended. They are professional and truly concerned about the patient's experience”

    Boni M from Babylon

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    “I am not one to write reviews but I always have such a pleasant experience at this office, so I felt the need to share. The staff is friendly, the wait is short, it's easy to get appointments (especially because of their long hours) and it's super clean. Thank you, Babylon Dental Care!”

    Jacqueline C from Sayville

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    “Everyone is always nice and sooooo patient. I would highly recommend this office to anyone that has a fear of going to the dentist. They also do wonderful community outreach! Very happy with the work they do!”

    Andrea B from West Babylon

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    “The staff is so wonderful! Best experience I’ve ever had a dentist office by far. They offer the cutest “comfort bar” with tons of options to make you feel right at home. Not many people can say that they actually enjoyed their time at the dentist, but I 100% can!! Looking forward to coming back for my next cleaning!”

    Rachael L from Patchogue