Many people spend thousands of dollars each year attempting to prevent heart disease. From gym memberships to healthy cookbooks to prescription medicines, it seems like the ways that you can spend your money to improve your heart health never ends. While there is no question that eating well and exercising regularly is good for your heart, most people overlook another key aspect of heart health, which is oral hygiene.
Link between periodontal disease and cardiac health
There are quite a few studies that suggest that oral health, particularly gum disease, is linked to a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease. Studies suggest that people with periodontal disease are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease. There is also evidence that a number of common oral health issues, including cavities, missing teeth, and gum disease or gingivitis, are just as effective at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
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While we don’t know exactly why this link between oral health and heart disease exists, there are a couple probable theories. First, it is possible for bacteria from the mouth to get into the bloodstream via the gums. These same bacteria can also be found lumped up in artery plaques. As such, some experts believe that the bacteria latch onto the fatty plaques in the bloodstream, which contributes directly to blockages.
Another popular theory stems from the body’s natural defence mechanisms against bacteria. When the body develops an infection, swelling or inflammation may occur. It’s possible that as oral bacteria make their way through the body, they spur a similar response, which makes the blood cells swell. This swelling could make an artery narrower, heightening the risk of blood clots.
It’s not clear whether periodontal disease is actually causing heart disease. However, it’s likely that the connection between the diseases is still important. For example, periodontal disease may be an early indication of cardiovascular issues. As heart disease is difficult to catch early, having a clear early indicator could greatly impact an individual’s outcome. With that being said, it’s critical for anyone concerned about heart disease to pay attention to established risk factors as well. Just because you’ve started brushing your teeth more often doesn’t mean that you can ignore your diabetes or start smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Heart disease prevention
If you believe that you are at risk of heart disease, you should improve your diet, implement a regular exercise routine, and if you’re overweight, start losing weight. There are a number of conditions that can increase the risk of heart diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Keeping these conditions under control will reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Oral hygiene routine
Once you have taken the standard measures for decreasing your risk of heart disease, focus on your oral hygiene.
- In most instances, learning better brushing and flossing habits will make a big difference. Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush, and use it to brush your teeth twice daily. The size and shape of the toothbrush should fit inside your mouth comfortably and allow you to reach all areas of the mouth with ease. Select an antimicrobial toothpaste that contains fluoride to further protect your teeth from decay.
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums while you brush your teeth. Use short strokes to move the brush back and forth gently in your mouth. Make sure to brush both the inner and outer tooth surfaces, the chewing surfaces of the teeth, and the tongue. Finally, take the tip of the brush and clean the inner surfaces of the front teeth.
- Many people don’t realize that flossing daily is key for preventing gum disease. Flossing allows you to reach spaces in your mouth that you can’t get to with a toothbrush. Removing plaque from those hard to reach places greatly reduces your risk of gum disease. Take 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Holding the floss between your thumbs and forefingers, guide it between your teeth gently. When you reach a gum line, curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth.
If you already have periodontal disease, don’t ignore it. Depending on the severity of the disease, you may need to have your dentist clean the roots of your teeth thoroughly, which is known as scaling and root planning. Sometimes surgery is necessary. Your dentist will work with you to determine the best plan of action for your oral health.
Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health as it serves as window to your overall well-being. For more such information and tips, you may subscribe to our blog updates and also contact our dentists in des moines, Plaza Dental Group. For receiving frequent updates and appointment scheduling, download our free app today!!
Dr. Steffany Mohan is the Owner of Plaza Dental Group and is a leading dentist in Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Mohan is an expert in implant, family and cosmetic dentistry, is Invisalign certified and has gained a reputation of excellence in the dentistry community. Plaza Dental Group has built a reputation for excellence and its close doctor-patient relationships, which has made them one of the premier offices of Iowa dentists