Did you know February is American Heart Month? With heart disease the leading cause of death in the U.S., it’s best to maintain a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of cardiovascular complications. Besides diet and exercise, your dentist also recommends improving your dental health. Believe it or not, gum disease is linked to heart disease. With at least 50% of Americans having a form of the infection, it’s crucial you commit to your gum health to prevent cardiovascular disease. Here’s how a healthy mouth can promote your heart’s health.
Gum Disease & Heart Health
Besides tooth decay, gum disease is the biggest threat to your oral health. Although it’s preventable, it’s the leading cause of tooth loss. Gum disease is an infection in the gingival tissue that’s caused by bacteria found in plaque and tartar buildup. If it isn’t treated during the earliest stage, gingivitis, it can destroy the supporting structures of your teeth, ultimately leading to tooth loss.
Unfortunately, the complications don’t end there. The bacteria can enter your bloodstream through the pressure of regular chewing. As it circulates throughout your body, it wreaks havoc on your cardiovascular system. Your body responds to the infection, causing swelling in your arteries. As a result, you’ll have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, people with gum disease are as much as 3 times as likely to have a cardiovascular event.
Preventing Gum Disease
Although gum disease is common, there are several things you can do to protect your smile and your heart health, such as:
- Brush your teeth twice daily. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste to clean all surfaces of your teeth at least twice daily. Brush for at least 2 minutes each session to remove food particles and plaque.
- Floss every night before bed. Use a high-quality dental floss to clean in between each tooth at least once a day.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year. The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist at least every 6 months for a cleaning and dental checkup. They will remove any accumulations left behind by your home oral hygiene habits and monitor your oral health for any concerns, like gum disease.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess. Tobacco and alcohol significantly increase your risk of preventable oral health issues, like gum disease.
- Understand your risk factors. Although anyone can develop gum disease, there are certain factors that increase your risk, like genetics or diabetes.
Promote Your Heart Health
You can lessen your risk of heart disease and keep your smile healthy with a commitment to your oral health. Besides your oral hygiene habits at home, don’t forget to visit your dentist at least twice a year.
About Dr. John Hamel
Dr. Hamel earned his dental degree at the Emory School of Dentistry in 1981. He regularly continues his training to provide specialty services, like dental implants. He focuses on prevention to help his patients reach and maintain optimal oral health. if it’s time for your next preventive visit, or you have signs of gum disease, contact our office for an appointment.