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Visit your Dentist regularly + Cleaning your Teeth properly = Protect your Heart - Life Insurance
Want to help avoid making a Critical Illness Plan claim ? Taking good care of your teeth and gums could prevent you from having a stroke or heart attack (As most Critical Illness plans cover these serious illnesses) then it makes sense to look after them. These results were according to a study published in 2007/2008 edition of the Denplan journal.
Life & Critical Illness Insurance - What is Gum Disease ?
Teeth are covered by sticky plaque which maybe made up of bacteria,food or bacterial waste products. If this plaque is left on your teeth, then your gums become irritated and may bleed when you brush. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.
- What did their studies find out?
The study found a strong link between gum disease and narrowing of the arteries (a process known as atherosclerosis), which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
The Denplan studies state that if gum disease is not treated, the gums may swell, forming a little pocket around the tooth. Plaque collects in this and cannot be removed by a toothbrush. When plaque is left on the teeth it may harden to form tartar (calculus).
As time goes on the pockets get deeper, trap even more plaque and tartar and may become infected. Over time gingivitis can develop into chronic (long term) periodontitis, in which the jaw bone can become infected and damaged, causing teeth to loosen or fall out.
Critical Illness benefits - What is Heart Disease ? - Life Insurance
"Atherosclerosis" is when the arteries become narrow and damaged. It happens when the arteries are clogged up with fatty deposits or the walls of the arteries become inflamed.
This narrowing can happen in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, depriving it of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to work normally. When the blood flow through an artery is stopped, a heart attack can occur.
Arteries supplying blood to the brain can also be affected by atherosclerosis. If a blood clot becomes lodged in a narrowed artery, blood flow to part of the brain may be stopped. This is called a stroke.
The researchers also discovered that these links existed only for gum disease causing bacteria and not for all the other bacteria that can live in the mouth.
Life Insurance - Heart Disease Research & Gum Disease Result - What do they mean?
The researchers suggest that the results mean that people who have gum disease may be at a greater risk of developing atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Note: Although their study suggests a link between gum disease and heart disease, it does not prove that gum disease actually causes heart disease.
Life & Critical Illness Insurance - Why might gum disease be linked to heart disease?
Denplan studies in the past have suggested that the bacteria that cause gum disease may increase the rate at which arteries become blocked.
These researchers believe that bacteria could leave people's infected gums and enter the bloodstream, activating the immune system (the body's defence mechanism) and making their artery walls inflamed and narrowed.
Another theory is that the bacteria enter the blood and attach themselves directly to the fatty deposits that are already present in a person's arteries, causing further narrowing.
Could the increase in the risk of heart disease be due to a different cause entirely?
Other lifestyle factors are known to increase the risk of heart disease, and they are often associated with poor dental health as well. For example:
- poorer diet
- low incomes
Some experts do not believe that the bacteria that cause gum disease are really responsible for increasing heart disease risk. Instead, they argue that the gum disease is due to smoking, poor diet or low income and that it is these factors that are also increasing the heart disease risk.
So how often should you visit Dentist ?
According to Denplan, the best way to prevent gum disease they say is to maintain good oral hygiene. This means regularly visiting your dentist or hygienist and brushing your teeth 2 x daily with a fluoride toothpaste
Denplan state that even thorough brushing and flossing cannot remove every trace of plaque, so your dentist needs to check your teeth regularly and remove any tartar build up. Your dentist will advise you how often to visit.
What are the signs that you have gum disease?
Normally, gums are pink and healthy looking. When you have gum disease your gums may be red and swollen, although sometimes they may look normal. Sometimes the only sign of gum disease is bleeding gums when brushing. If you find that your gums are bleeding when you brush, it is vital that you clean them more thoroughly, not less. Make sure that you clean every surface of the tooth and use dental floss or interdental brushes to clean in between the teeth.
How is gum disease treated?
Gum disease treatment aims to remove plaque and make it as difficult as possible for it to reform. With mild gum disease, more careful brushing and flossing may cure the problem without need for further treatment.
However, once a hard layer of tartar has formed, you cannot remove it yourself. Your dentist or hygienist needs to remove it with a specialist scaling tool. He or she will also polish your teeth's surfaces to make it harder for bacteria to attach themselves. Your dentist may recommend an antiseptic mouthwash to control plaque levels in the short term but these are not used for longer than one month.
If the infection has developed into periodontitis and deep pockets have formed that are affecting the support of the tooth, your dentist or hygienist will need to clean these regularly. It may be necessary to visit your dentist as often as every 2/3 months. Your dentist may also carry out root planing (removal of infected base around the root). With NHS dentists slowly disappearing this could prove expensive.
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