February is not just a celebration of the love you have in your life, but your literal heart! It is American Heart Month, which means there is no better time to pay special attention to one of the most important organs of your body. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, you will want to do everything you can to care for it. But did you realize that heart health is not just about watching what you eat and exercising? Your oral health can directly impact it as well. Here’s how the state of your mouth and your heart are connected.
How Oral Health Can Affect the Heart
One of the main parts of your mouth that can impact your heart is your gums! Multiple studies have revealed that people with gum disease are more likely to suffer from various other health issues, including heart disease. It’s estimated that gum disease increases a person’s risk for heart issues by roughly 20%.
So, why does the health of your gums affect your heart health? When gum disease is left untreated, it can lead to inflammation in the rest of the body. This can result in the narrowing of your arteries, thus increasing the risk of a heart attack. Additionally, the bacteria that cause gum disease may enter your bloodstream, allowing them to travel to the heart and cause an infection.
How Can You Protect Your Oral Health and Heart Health?
In order to protect your heart, it’s essential to take the essential steps to prevent gum disease and keep your mouth as healthy as possible. After all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 42% of people suffer from some stage of inflammation of the gums. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to maintain excellent oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth consistently and thoroughly at least two times every day. Be sure to brush near the gumline.
- Floss (at the very least) once a day. This helps to prevent plaque buildup in areas a toothbrush can’t reach.
- If you use tobacco products or smoke, seek help to break the habit as soon as possible. These can significantly increase your risk for gum disease and heart attacks.
- Choose a diet full of vegetables and fruits, which are good for your gums as well as your heart.
- Visit your dentist every six months for your exams and cleanings. They can check for early signs of gum disease and identify ways you can improve your oral hygiene routine.
- Be aware of the warning signs of gum disease such as consistently bad breath and gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing. Prevention is key for both your oral and your cardiovascular health. If you are experiencing inflammation in the soft tissues of your mouth, then get in touch with your dentist to discuss the periodontal therapies available. The sooner you seek help, the more manageable the condition is!
About the Author
Dr. Yelena Obholz and her team at Aesthetic & Family Dentistry of North Bethesda are eager to help you keep your oral health in top condition. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the New York University College of Dentistry, as well as completed a residency at Woodhull Hospital in New York where she did advanced work in periodontics, oral surgery, and prosthodontics. She offers a full range of dental services, including gum disease treatments. To schedule an appointment, contact her through her website or call (301) 658-7647.