Love your heart? Keep your teeth and gums healthy. It could work wonders for keeping your heart healthy too.
February is considered “American Heart month”, which gives us all a reminder to focus a little more time, and attention, to the health of our hearts. Why? Because heart disease is currently the #1 cause of death for women and men in the US. It kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, and one person dies every 37 seconds in this country from cardiovascular disease.
Heart disease is serious, and should be something that we maintain awareness about throughout the year, not just in February. So, how can our oral health contribute to the health of our hearts? Believe it or not, what goes on in your mouth can be bad for your heart.
Here are 4 ways your oral health & hygiene could influence your risk for heart disease.
- Not Brushing Your Teeth Regularly (or correctly!) – Brushing your teeth regularly, and correctly, can help reduce your risk of heart disease. In fact, according to a South Korean study, brushing your teeth three or more times per day could lower your risk of heart failure by 12%. The findings from this study suggest that frequent brushing, when done correctly, could reduce the bacteria residing in the pockets between your teeth and gums that can contribute to heart disease. How? This bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, causing inflammation in the body and contribute to heart failure.
- Having Gum Disease – Your dentist refers to it as periodontal disease, but it’s still gum disease. And about 85% of Americans have some form of it. Studies have shown that healthy people with gum disease were two to three times more at risk for having a heart attack, or stroke. So, what is gum disease? When your gums become inflamed from a bacterial infection that comes from plaque, that sticky stuff that forms on your teeth, that’s it. The more serious symptoms may include red, swollen gums that bleed when you eat, brush or floss. When gum disease is too advanced, it can lead to loose teeth, and tooth loss.
- Having Less Teeth Could Increase Your Risk – Recent studies have shown that adults who have lost teeth because of non-traumatic reasons may have a higher risk for developing heart disease. According to a study, people with one to five missing teeth, were more likely to develop some form of heart disease. A study from the European Society of Cardiology showed there was a moderate correlation between tooth loss and coronary heart disease. Again, gum disease could be common denominator, as this disease, when untreated, contributes to a greater risk of tooth loss. Another possible association could be the dietary restrictions, and the challenges of eating, from losing multiple teeth. The good news? We offer many tooth replacement options. And the sooner you replace it, the sooner you can reduce these health risks!
- Skipping Your Teeth Cleanings – Visiting your dental hygienist can also improve your matters of the heart. A study showed that people who have their teeth professionally cleaned were 24% less likely to suffer a heart attack. A most likely factor is that teeth cleanings can help reduce, or manage chronic inflammation that’s linked to gum disease…which is linked to heart disease.
Taking good care of your teeth, will help keep your gums healthy…which may help you maintain a healthy heart. It’s just another good reason to be vigilant about your oral health.
The first step to good oral health comes from correctly brushing (2 minutes) and flossing your teeth every day. This can prevent and even reverse an early stage of gum disease, also referred to as gingivitis. If you’re not sure about your brushing and flossing techniques, please ask us! Our hygienists and dentists are all Olympic gold medal brush-stroke certified, and would be happy to demonstrate. And don’t forget to not miss your twice-yearly cleanings and dental check-ups too.
If you have already noticed signs of gum disease, please call us at (206) 524-1000 to schedule an exam and consultation, or request an appointment online. We’ll review the health of your gums and, based on the level of your gum disease, we’ll help you develop a treatment plan to eliminate it, or help you keep it in check.