Did you know that there’s a connection between stroke and gum disease? Your mouth has thousands of bacteria, and some can affect other parts of your body. When bacteria from the mouth enter the blood vessels, they attach to fatty plaques in the heart’s blood vessels (coronary arteries). This buildup may lead to heart attacks or stroke. In fact, people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a stroke, heart attack, or other serious cardiovascular event.
If you’ve had a stroke, maintaining good oral hygiene can help you avoid experiencing additional complications. According to the American Heart Association, if a critically ill patient doesn’t maintain regular dental care following a stroke, they have a higher risk of developing ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Good oral health habits not only prevent gum disease, they can also help minimize your risk of developing or worsening other conditions, including additional strokes. So, it’s important to brush after every meal and before bedtime, and floss at least once a day.
Getting professional dental cleanings regularly also helps, because when plaque accumulates, it can harden and turn into tartar. Once tartar has formed, only your dentist or hygienist can remove it.
If you notice any symptoms of gum disease, make an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing any damage and protecting your overall health.
If you have a history of stroke or other serious conditions, our Oral Health for Total HealthSM program’s preventive dental services, outreach and education, and integrated medical care programs can help improve your oral and overall health.
These valuable services are available to enrolled members at no extra cost when visiting a participating dentist. Program benefits include two extra cleanings or preventive visits per year (total of four).
If you have health and dental plans from HMSA and have a history of stroke, you’re automatically enrolled. If you don’t have a health plan with HMSA, you can easily enroll online.
Once enrolled, all you need to do is make an appointment with a participating dentist. You can find a dentist in your plan’s network at hmsadental.com/find-a-dentist.
Check our provider directory to see if your dentist is in-network, or find a participating provider.
Have a qualifying medical condition? Enroll to receive enhanced dental benefits that promote your overall health.