1342 Farrow Pkwy, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577  

James E. Mills, DDS & Associates

(843) 293-6700
 

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(843) 293-6700
Fax: (843) 293-6740

1342 Farrow Pkwy
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

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Online Dental Education Library

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.

Gum disease can affect your heart and body.

Maintaining good oral health has many rewards: A sparkling smile, fresh breath, and healthy gums. But recent scientific evidence suggests that it may have an even greater benefit to your overall health: Specifically, it could potentially reduce your risk for a number of systemic (whole-body) diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis — even premature birth.

Periodontal (gum) disease is estimated to affect nearly half of all Americans, and is the major cause of adult tooth loss. Numerous studies have shown that patients with severe periodontal disease are at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Periodontitis may also increase the chance that diabetes will develop or progress, and research suggests an association between gum disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes as well.

Inflammation: Friend and Foe

Gum inflammation.What's the link between diseases of the mouth — like gum disease — and those of the body? They are connected by the body's natural reaction to harmful stimuli, which we call the inflammatory response. Often characterized by pain, redness and swelling, inflammation is a process by which your immune system responds to damage or disease in your tissues. Inflammation can help the body heal — or, if it becomes chronic, it can lead to more serious problems.

Gum disease (periodontitis), CVD, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis are all associated with the same type of inflammatory response. Studies have found that moderate to severe periodontitis tends to increase the level of systemic inflammation — a condition that may smolder in the background, awaiting the right conditions to flare into a more serious disease. It has also been shown that the same strains of bacteria that are found in inflamed gum tissue may also appear in the arterial plaques of individuals suffering from CVD.

How Does It Work?

While there is intriguing evidence of a link between gum disease and other systemic diseases, further studies will be needed to prove whether one causes the other. At present, however, several mechanisms have been proposed to explain how the connection works. One suggestion is that oral bacteria themselves may enter the bloodstream, form into clumps, and trigger systemic inflammation. The inflammatory response can cause swelling of cells and tissues, which narrow the arteries and increase the risk of blood clots.

Another possibility is that byproducts of oral bacteria released into the bloodstream could trigger the production of substances called CRPs (C-reactive proteins) in the liver. These proteins tend to inflame blood vessels and promote the formation of clots, possibly leading to clogged arteries, heart disease and stroke. Elevated CRP levels, according to some studies, are a stronger predictor of heart attack than cholesterol levels.

What You Can Do

Since chronic inflammation is a systemic problem, the best way to begin controlling it is via a whole-body approach. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting moderate exercise (and, if you use tobacco, quitting the habit) will help with this. So will bringing untreated inflammatory diseases, such as periodontitis, under control.

There are a number of effective treatments for periodontal disease, including nonsurgical procedures such as root cleaning and the local application of antimicrobials. For more serious conditions, conventional or laser gum surgery is an option. Finally, to keep your gums healthy between office visits, you need to develop an effective oral hygiene routine you can practice at home.

Although it's too early to say that periodontal disease causes heart disease or other systemic conditions, they seem to have a connection. And while medicine and dentistry can't change genetics, together we can control external factors like excess weight, tobacco use… and gum disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best way to avoid periodontal problems. But if problems occur, don't wait: The sooner you have treatment, the better your chances for controlling gum disease — and perhaps systemic diseases too.

Related Articles

Heart and Gum Disease - Dear Doctor Magazine

The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases Inflammation has emerged as a factor that is involved in the process of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), which commonly results in heart attacks and strokes. While the precise role inflammation plays in causing chronic CVD remains an area of intense current investigation, much more is now known... Read Article

Diabetes - Dear Doctor Magazine

Diabetes & Periodontal Disease Diabetes and periodontal disease are chronic inflammatory diseases that impact the health of millions of people. What you may not know is that diabetes and periodontal disease can adversely affect each other... Read Article


James E. Mills, DDS & associates

Read more about our Doctors

Dr. Robert V. Carimi

Dr. Robert V. Carimi is originally from Memphis, TN and has been practicing dentistry for 10 years. He earned his dental degree from the University of Tennessee, College of Dentistry. Prior to entering private practice, he completed advanced training in surgical techniques at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Memphis, TN. Dr. Carimi also engages in ongoing continuing education, which allows him to provide patients with the latest advances in dentistry.

He enjoys blending the artistry and science of dentistry to change people’s lives. Dr. Carimi has been practicing in the Charleston area for the past 5 years. He and his wife, Brittney reside in Mt. Pleasant and have three daughters, Holland, Sutton and Macayle. They are active members at Christ Our King-Stella Maris School and St. Benedict Catholic Church. 
Dr. Carimi's hobbies include photography, relaxing at the beach with his family, engaging in outdoor activities and traveling. 

 

Dr. John P. Finucane

Dr. John P. Finucane, who is originally from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has been practicing dentistry for 44 years. He earned his dental degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee.  Aside from general dentistry, Dr. Finucane focusses on serving patients with removable dentures as he completed a three year residency program in that modality.  Dr. Finucane has been married for 42 years, and currently resides in Pawleys Island.  He has two adult sons, two grandchildren, two dogs, and two cats, and enjoys photography and music.

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