Mention heart disease risk and we instantly think about cholesterol numbers, blood pressure readings, and C-reactive protein levels. However, if you want an early sign that you may be at risk of a cardiovascular event, take a look at your gums. Numerous studies have linked gum disease with an increased risk of heart disease, which is all the more reason not to ignore receding, bleeding and inflamed gums.
Protect your gums, protect your heart
While researchers are still uncertain as to exactly how gum disease affects heart attack and stroke risk, they do know that bacteria can travel from the gums and into the bloodstream where it settles into artery plaques causing blockages that contribute to heart attack risk.
Recently, the American Academy of Periodontology reported that people with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease. One study showed that the mere presence of dental issues, including cavities and missing teeth, was enough to signal coronary artery disease.
Another study, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that individuals with higher blood levels of an oral disease-causing bacteria had a greater chance of also having atherosclerosis in the carotid artery in the neck. Atherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries, increases the likelihood of stroke.
Gum disease starts with a white or pale yellow plaque covering the teeth. Plaque is formed when bacteria in the mouth mix with your saliva and food remnants. If this plaque is not brushed and flossed away, it hardens into tartar below your gums, where you can’t see it.
Tartar causes an early stage of gum disease called gingivitis, which is marked by swollen, inflamed gums. If left untreated, gingivitis escalates into periodontitis, characterized by dark red, bleeding, painful gums. Periodontitis affects the gums, the deeper supporting tissue, and even the bones surrounding the teeth.
Fortunately, gum disease can be reversed with one single vitamin – vitamin C… and by protecting your gums you invariably will reduce your risk of heart disease. Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory nutrient that holds cells together by helping to build connective tissue with collagen. It also accelerates bone regeneration, thereby helping to restore healthy teeth and gums.
According to the Journal of Periodontology, people who consume less than 60mg of vitamin C a day are 1.5 times more likely to develop gum disease than those who consume more than 180mg a day.
Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red peppers, kiwis, coconut water, and oranges. As for supplements, experts say to avoid chewable vitamin C supplements because they are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time. Instead, use non-acidic vitamin C (called calcium ascorbate) in white powder form. Spread half a teaspoon over swollen gums, wait 10 minutes, and rinse. You can even supplement with vitamin C chewing gum, which was shown in one study to effectively decrease plaque and other signs of emerging gingivitis and periodontal disease!
Did you find this information useful?
"It is truly refreshing to read a newsletter on the topic of alternative medicine which is scientifically based and reviewed by professionals..." - Robert Sinott
Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Reverse Gum Disease and Heart Disease with Vitamin C, published online, undergroundhealthreporter.com