Causes and Symptoms of Disease

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What Causes Gum Disease?

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Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless "plaque" on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque.  Plaque that is not removed can harden and form "tartar" that brushing doesn't clean.  Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Bad breath that will not go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

Any of these symptoms may be a sign of a serious problem, which should be checked by a dentist.  At your dental visit the dentist or hygienist should:

  • Ask about your medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors, such as smoking which contributes to gum disease and will need future gum disease treatment.
  • Examine your gums and note any signs of disease or inflammation.
  • Use a tiny ruler called a 'probe' to check for and measure any pockets.  In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters.  This test for pocket depth is usually painless.
  • The dentist or hygienist may also
    • Take an x-ray to see whether there is any bone loss.
    • Refer you to a periodontist.  Periodontists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and may provide you with treatment options that are not offered by your dentist.

causes and symptoms

What Causes Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease seems to start when damage occurs to the inner layers of the carotid arteries. Major factors contribute to arterial damage including:

  • High levels of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
  • Elevated blood pressure levels
  • Smoking
  • High levels of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes

When damage occurs, your body starts a healing process. The healing may cause plaque to build up where the arteries are damaged.

The plaque in an artery can crack or rupture. If this happens, blood cell fragments called platelets will stick to the site of the injury and may clump together to form blood clots.  

The buildup of plaque or blood clots can severely narrow or block the arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, which can cause a stroke.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease may not cause signs or symptoms until it severely narrows or blocks a carotid artery. Signs and symptoms may include a bruit, a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a stroke.


During a physical exam, your doctor may listen to your carotid arteries with a stethoscope. He or she may hear a whooshing sound called a bruit. This sound may suggest changed or reduced blood flow due to plaque buildup. To find out more, your doctor may recommend tests.

Not all people who have carotid artery disease have bruits.

Transient Ischemic Attack - known as a Mini-Stroke

For some people, having a TIA, or “mini-stroke,” is the first sign of carotid artery disease. During a mini-stroke, you may have some or all of the symptoms of a stroke. However, the symptoms usually go away on their own within 24-hours.

The symptoms may include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in face or limbs, often just one side of the body
  • The inability to move one or more of your limbs
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • A sudden, severe headache with no known cause

medical treatmentEven if the symptoms stop quickly, you should see a doctor right away. Call 9–1–1 for help. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. It's important to get checked and to get treatment started as soon as possible.

A mini-stroke is a warning sign that you're at high risk of having a stroke. You should not ignore these symptoms. About one-third of people who have mini-strokes will later have strokes. Getting medical care can help find possible causes of a mini-stroke and help you manage risk factors. These actions might prevent a future stroke. Click-here for Health Tip-of-the-Day.

Although a mini-stroke may warn of a stroke, it doesn't predict when a stroke will happen. A stroke may occur days, weeks, or even months after a mini-stroke. In about half of the cases of strokes that follow TIAs, the strokes occur within 1-year.

What Happens With A Stroke

The symptoms of a stroke are the same as those of a mini-stroke, but the results are not. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage; long-term disability, such as vision or speech problems or paralysis (an inability to move); or death. Most people who have strokes have not previously had warning so called mini-strokes.

Getting treatment for a stroke right away is very important. You have the best chance for full recovery if treatment to open a blocked artery is given within 4-hours of symptom onset. The sooner treatment occurs, the better your chances of recovery.

Call 9–1–1 for help as soon as symptoms occur. Do not drive yourself to the hospital. It's very important to get checked and to get treatment started as soon as possible.

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Make those close to you aware of stroke symptoms and the need for urgent action. Learning the signs, symptoms and causes of a stroke for you to help yourself or someone close to you lower the risk of brain damage or death due because of a stroke. Good veins and arteries health is quite important for your longevity.

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