As a general and family dentist, I try to stress the importance of having good oral health as much as possible to my patients. It’s clear that maintaining quality oral health is essential to optimal wellness and overall health.

The month of May is National Stroke Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to discuss why keeping your mouth healthy is so important.

In addition to being linked to health issues like tooth loss, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s, gum disease is a leading risk factor for strokes.

It’s likely that you have gum disease if you have the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding, swollen, or tender gums
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Exposed tooth roots
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Changes in your bite
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Ill-fitting dentures or partials

If you have gum disease, you’re twice as likely to have a stroke than you are to have diabetes. You’re also equally as likely to have a stroke as you are to have high blood pressure.

So where does the connection between gum disease and stroke come from? A stroke occurs when a ruptured blood vessel or impaired blood flow cause brain hemorrhaging. They can also occur when a clot blocks a blood vessel. This can be caused by harmful bacteria entering the bloodstream through your mouth, stimulating the clotting of blood, damaging the lining of blood vessels, and increasing the risk of stroke. Your mouth is often called the window to your body, after all.

To reduce your risk of developing gum disease and all the health problems it has been linked to, take care of your dental health by having regular dental exams and cleanings and practicing good at-home dental hygiene habits.

I’m Dr. Corbet Locke, and I invite you and your family to call my dental office in Waco, Texas, at (254) 776-4888 to reserve your appointments.