Maybe you’ve heard that oral health contributes to a healthier you, but you might not have known that there is a link between heart disease and poor oral health. Heart disease claims around 610,000 lives each year and is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S. Even if your teeth and gums feel fine, it’s important to know the risks of not taking care of them, and how to prevent an increased risk for contracting heart disease.
There is a definite links between heart disease and oral health: gum disease. If you have gum disease at a moderate or advanced stage, then you are more likely to get heart disease than someone with relatively healthy gums. You’ll want to make sure that you’re getting your gums checked every time you go to the dentist. Your dentist can detect the early warnings signs and properly prepare you to take steps to make sure that you don’t turn into a statistic.
Oral health and heart disease are linked because of the spread of bacteria and other germs from your mouth to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. When the bacteria reaches your heart, it can latch onto any damaged area and cause inflammation. This can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. There are other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, which is clogged arteries, and stroke have been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Since gum disease is correlated with heart disease, you’ll want to make sure that you know the signs of the disease to look for. If your gums feel like they’re receding from your teeth, if they’re red, puffy, and swollen, they bleed excessively when you brush, eat, or floss, bad breath that won’t go away, and more.
When you’re at the dentist, they’ll note your medical history to identify underlying conditions, and they’ll also check out any and all pockets around your gums to verify whether you have good oral health or not.
At this point, you’re aware that thorough daily oral hygiene habits and regular dental examinations are the most efficient ways to protect yourself against the development of gum disease and possibly heart disease. It’s vital that you brush your teeth twice a day, making sure that you get around the gum line. It’s also important to floss at least once a day to get rid of the pesky food that gets stuck between your pearly whites. You should also consider using an antimicrobial mouthwash if you have gum disease or have the early warning signs of the disease. It can help control the bacteria that could build up along your gum lines. You should also visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings, because they know what to look for and can give you the best advice on how to handle your oral health and predispositions to certain diseases.
Eating a well-balanced diet and regularly exercising can do wonders for your oral and overall health too! When you eat nutrient-rich foods, it neutralizes some of the acids in your mouth and helps to keep it clean. As you probably know, exercising will keep your heart strong and healthy. Eating right and exercising can decrease your chances of gum and heart disease, so be sure to prioritize it every day.
When you take steps to be proactive about your oral and overall health, you protect yourself from the chance of developing a connection between oral health and heart disease. So, what are you waiting for? A healthy mouth and heart are just a brush, floss, and cleaning away.