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Oral Health and Stroke: What You Should Know

Did you know that there’s a connection between oral health and stroke?

People with periodontal (gum) disease have two to three times the risk of having a stroke, heart attack or other serious cardiovascular events.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, a number of studies point to the relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. One study found that periodontal microbiology may predispose you to subclinical atherosclerosis (plaques of fatty material that accumulate on the inner walls of arteries). Another study showed that periodontal disease may increase the risk of cerebral ischemia (a blockage in an artery that restricts the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the brain).

Know the warning signs of periodontitis

If you notice any of the symptoms below, make an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing any damage.

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums, or mouth pain
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, or loose or separating teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

If you have a history of stroke, make good oral health a priority<

  • Brush after every meal and before bedtime
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning. When plaque accumulates, it can mineralize and turn into tartar, and only your dentist or hygienist can remove it.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Dental XtraSM program provides evidence-based Dental Benefits to people with a history of stroke and other serious conditions that can help improve their oral and overall health. If you’re enrolled in Dental Xtra, be sure to take advantage of the two additional cleanings you receive through the program.

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