Your heart pumps blood to all the different parts of your body, so it stands to reason that the health of your mouth can contribute to the health of your heart.
Heart health and dental disease
Studies have found that gum disease can increase your risk of having a heart attack. Medical professionals believe this is because of increased inflammation in the body. If you have gum disease and inflammation in the mouth, it’s likely to indicate that inflammation lies elsewhere in the body. Additionally, bacteria from the mouth can move into the bloodstream and travel to vulnerable heart valves, which can lead to a cardiac event.
One of the best ways to keep gum disease in check is to see your dentist regularly. Dentists can identify signs of the dental condition and treat it before it becomes more severe. Dental appointments may be a first line of defense against ending up in the emergency room.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, which affects the tissues that surround and support teeth, is an infection caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque that forms on the teeth, mainly along the gum line. In its early stages, gum disease can be treated and often reversed.
To help keep your mouth and heart healthy, follow these tips to help prevent problems before they arise:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Make sure you brush gently beneath the gum line around each tooth.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
- Eat a healthy diet and don’t use tobacco. If you smoke, quit. Your dentist may be able to help you stop.
Dental health affects more than the heart
Gum disease is not the only oral health problem that can take a toll on your body. According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, conditions such as tooth loss and dry mouth are “associated with high levels of inflammation, poor diet quality, and conditions such as disability, diabetes, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and pneumonia.” Taking care of your dental health is important for your overall health. The mouth and body connection is stronger than most people think it is. Remember, a healthy diet, exercise, and daily oral health habits can keep your entire body healthy!
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*Updated June 2023