February 5, 2021
It’s February, which means it’s the time of year to appreciate the people you love. As you treat your sweetheart, though, don’t neglect your own heart! Your heart is a powerful muscle that keeps you alive, so it deserves to be taken good care of. Believe it or not, maintaining good dental health can keep your heart in good shape. Oral health problems, such as gum disease, have been linked to cardiovascular complications. Since February is American Heart Month, now seems like the perfect time to discuss how keeping your heart healthy starts with caring for your smile.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Health
Multiple studies have shown a direct connection between gum disease and heart disease. Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease occurs when plaque accumulates in the mouth and infects the tissues supporting the teeth. Untreated gum disease can lead to bleeding gums, pain when chewing, and even tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States.
Unfortunately, the health problems that result from gum disease don’t stop at your mouth. When your gums are inflamed, bacteria can more easily access your bloodstream. From there, they can travel to other parts of your body and wreak havoc. This includes the heart, where they can cause inflammation that makes it more difficult for blood to travel through your arteries.
As a result, people with gum disease are two to three times more likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, or other life-altering cardiovascular event. That’s why preventing gum disease is of the utmost importance.
How to Keep Your Smile (and Your Heart) Healthy
Luckily, gum disease is largely preventable. It doesn’t involve anything you shouldn’t already be doing to stay healthy. Here are some tips for preventing the plaque buildup that leads to gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Brush for two minutes each time, and pay close attention to the gumline.
- Floss at least once daily. Flossing removes lingering food particles and plaque from areas between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Visit your dentist twice a year. Routine checkups and cleanings give your dentist an opportunity to detect warning signs of gum disease and treat it early on. Plus, the hygienist can remove plaque that causes gum disease in the first place.
- Quit tobacco. Not only will it improve your overall health, but it will dramatically decrease your risk of gum disease and other dental problems.
Keeping your heart healthy starts with taking good care of your smile. Your dentist can provide you with more personalized advice on both fronts. Don’t have your next dental checkup scheduled? American Heart Month is as good a time as any to do so!
About the Author
Dr. Julie Valentine has been a general and cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills for more than 25 years. She obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. If you are interested in preventing gum disease, Dr. Valentine can help. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit her website or call her office at (310) 551-2955.
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