Valentine’s Day isn’t the only heart themed event in February; it’s also American Heart Month! President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the first federal event to be held February 1964. At the time of the proclamation, more than 50% of all American deaths were due to cardiovascular disease and today it remains the leading cause of death around the world, taking the lives of approximately 2,300 Americans EVERY DAY!
One of the ways we are working to combat that is by sharing information about the link between dental health and cardiovascular wellness. More and more studies are being done that link good dental hygiene with overall health. In fact, oral health has links to Alzheimer’s disease, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular disease.
The Link Between Poor Dental Care and Gum Disease
Overall, the primary link between poor dental care and gum disease is inflammation. Without proper dental hygiene, gum disease can develop as a result of inflammation from the bacteria that isn’t being taken care of on a daily basis.
There are primarily two types of gum disease: gingivitis – red, swollen gums, and periodontal disease – a bacterial infection of the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth. Both are caused by the accumulation of a sticky residue called plaque on your teeth, holding bacteria in place, resulting in dental problems like cavities and gum disease.
It’s periodontal disease that is thought to allow the bacteria to enter your bloodstream, which can in turn cause issues with your heart health. If you already have a heart condition, or if you have had a heart attack, your risk increases even more. (To learn more about heart attack causes and symptoms check out the information at the American Heart Association’s website.)
What Can You Do to Maintain a Healthy Heart and Prevent Heart Disease?
Healthy Eating. Choosing healthy foods helps in weight management and offers the nutritional balance your body needs to function optimally. Choose a variety of colors in your fruits, veggies, lean meats and complex carbohydrates while limiting sugar.
Regular Exercise. Good food choices and regular exercise go hand-in-hand for maintaining a healthy weight. Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs while weight bearing workouts target muscle and bones. A good mix of both is ideal.
Don’t Smoke. Smoking puts people at risk for heart disease as well as a wide variety of other diseases. There is no better time to quit smoking than now. The benefits of quitting start almost immediately and every day without a cigarette improves your health.
Manage Your Stress. High blood pressure, cholesterol and stress are all contributing factors in heart disease.
Keep a Good Dental Care Routine. Keep up your good oral health by brushing twice daily for a full two minutes, flossing and using mouthwash daily, and chewing sugar-free gum after meals when you can’t brush your teeth.
Be aware. Know the signs of gum disease, so you can get help when you need it. Swollen gums that bleed when you floss, brush, or eat; teeth that look like they are separating from the gums or are even loose or missing; bad breath or taste in your mouth or a visible infection can all be signs of gum disease.
See Your Dentist. As part of your ongoing health team, you should see your dentist at least twice a year for regular dental check-ups. Be sure to tell him or her about any medications or heart conditions you may have.
Don’t wait until you are having symptoms and take a proactive approach to maintaining the health of your smile. After all, a healthy mouth will help in having a healthy heart! Find a PERFECT TEETH dentist in your area online to make an appointment!