Is There a Link Between Strokes and Dental Health?

Every four minutes, someone in the United States dies from a stroke. If you know about the link between oral health and overall health, you may wonder whether there is a connection between oral health and stroke risk.

Understanding Strokes

Before we can get into the possible links between strokes and dental health, it is important to understand strokes as far as what they are, what causes them, and who is at risk for them. A stroke is when either a blood clot blocks oxygen flow to the brain or a blood vessel bursts in the brain. A stroke victim may show physical signs such as drooping in the face, impaired speech or arm weakness. Anyone can suffer a stroke but there are a few groups who have an increased risk:

  • Adults Older Than 65: Most stroke victims are above the age of 65 because stroke risk increases as people age
  • African Americans: African Americans are twice as likely to suffer a risk than Caucasians and are the population most likely to die as a result of a stroke
  • People with Unhealthy Lifestyles: People who are mostly sedentary, smokers, obsess people and those with certain diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are at an increased risk of stroke.
  • A recent study indicated that stroke victims often have poor oral health practices . Often, this is a direct result of gum disease.

Understanding Gum Disease

More than 64 million American suffer from one form or another of gum disease. That’s nearly half of all adults. Gum disease is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth and it is completely preventable. There are multiple stages of gum disease, generally characterized by swollen, red gums that bleed easily and may pull away from the tooth. With the correct treatment, the disease can be slowed.

You can easily avoid most gum disease by practicing good oral health habits and following your dentist’s advice, including brushing twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash daily. You should also chew sugar-free gum when brushing isn’t an option after a meal. Finally, you should be seeing your dentist twice annually for oral health check-ups.

So, what is the link between stroke and gum disease?

The Link Between Stroke and Gum Disease

The primary connection between gum disease and a stroke is inflammation. The excess bacteria in the mouth associated with gum disease is an infection. When the bacterial infection gets to the bloodstream, the inflammation increases the risk of a blood clot, which may be the direct cause of a stroke.

Doctors are still not sure whether inflammation from gum disease is the cause of vascular disease or if it works the other way around, but they do know that there is a link between the two. Inflammation from gum disease has not only been linked to stroke but also conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.

Stroke and Dental Health

Because both stroke and gum disease impact so many Americans, it is essential to understand what puts you at risk for each and how to avoid them. If you have a family member who has suffered a stroke, it is even more important for you to practice good oral health habits. If a person has suffered a stroke, they may need help with their dental health, especially if physical or cognitive limitations make it difficult for them to remember or complete basic tasks.

If you are concerned about your gum heath and need to find a Leominster dentist, Hallmark Dental in now accepting new patients. For more information about out dental service or to request an appointment, please contact us today!

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