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The Surprising Link Between Gum Disease and Stroke


According to the CDC, stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States and the number one leading cause of serious long-term disability; for this reason, it’s extremely important to recognize the factors that can put you at risk. You’ve probably heard that age can be a contributor, but did you also know that your oral health might play a role as well? Here’s how gum disease in North Central San Antonio may be linked to this extremely serious condition.


What are Gum Disease and Stroke?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the gums due to bacterial infection. It’s usually a result of poor oral hygiene. The earliest form is gingivitis and is characterized by redness, swelling and bleeding; if untreated, it will become periodontitis and can eventually result in tooth loss.

A stroke occurs when your brain is cut off from its oxygen supply in the bloodstream. The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke, which happens when the arteries connected to the brain are narrowed or blocked in some manner.

What is the Connection Between Gum Disease and Stroke?

Multiple studies have found that patients with periodontitis are more likely to suffer a stroke. It’s been suggested that this could be due to the inflammation associated with gum disease, which can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) that can make it more difficult for the blood to circulate correctly. Another theory is that the bacteria from an oral infection can enter blood vessels and cause inflammation in other areas, thus increasing the risk of stroke and other heart-related conditions.

Does This Mean Gum Disease Cause Stroke?

Despite a strong connection, it has not been definitively proven that gum disease can directly lead to a stroke. It’s important to note that both conditions can have similar risk factors. Smoking and poor eating habits, for example, can have a major negative effect on oral health and heart health.

With that being said, keeping your mouth free of infection is extremely important; gum disease that has developed to the point of abscessing (meaning a pocket of bacteria-filled pus) can lead to the infection spreading to other parts of the body. For this reason, make sure to keep your regular appointments with your dentist in North Central San Antonio in addition to daily brushing and flossing. A clean mouth is vital for good oral health – and the rest of your body may just thank you for it.

About the Author

At Legacy Dental SA, Drs. Brian Eck and Joseph Sage provide comprehensive dental care for every patient. Dr. Eck has been practicing dentistry for 35 years and is the Chairman of the Board of the San Antonio College Dental Assisting Program. Dr. Sage is a member of three dental associations, including the San Antonio District Dental Society. For questions about periodontal therapy for treating gum disease, visit their website or call (210) 361-8905.

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