February is not only the time for pink paper hearts on Valentine’s Day, it’s also, appropriately, Heart Health Month. The heart is a powerful muscle and keeping it healthy is one secret to living a long and happy life. To that end, you may be surprised to find out that your oral health can really influence your cardiovascular health. Keep reading to find out how, along with tips for keeping both in tip-top shape.
The Link between Heart Health and Oral Health
Although they are in different parts of the body, your heart and oral cavity are closely connected. That is because the gums provide an easy entry into the blood stream, allowing bacteria in the mouth to pass onto the heart.
The presence of gum disease, which is caused by plaque bacteria buildup in the gums, places patients at a much higher risk of developing heart problems. In fact, research shows that people who have gum disease are two to three times more likely to also have cardiovascular disease, which also increases risk of heart attack and stroke.
Fortunately, you can protect your heart by practicing regular preventive measures to keep your gums clean and disease-free.
Tips for Keeping Your Smile and Heart Healthy
Take the following steps to prevent gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes at a time. Use a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen tooth enamel.
- Floss between teeth at least daily (after each meal is even better).
- Visit the dentist twice annually for a checkup and cleaning. Aside from removing plaque buildup from around the base of your teeth, your dental hygienist will also check for early signs of gum disease to help you stop any issues before they get out of hand.
- Quit smoking/tobacco. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for developing gum disease, as it reduces blood flow to the gums and makes it more difficult for your mouth to clean itself. If you have tried to quit unsuccessfully in the past, consult with your doctor or dentist for help.
- Recognize other risk factors for periodontal disease, including age, diet, and genetics. Talk to your dentist to understand if you are at an increased risk of developing gum disease.
This Heart Health Month, take steps that will really help your heart – and recommit to your oral health. As the expert in your smile, your dentist will be happy to discuss ways you can reduce your risk for periodontal disease.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Matthew Nawrocki received his Doctor of Dental Medicine at the University of Florida and went on to earn a master’s in Dental Science. As a highly trained and experienced prosthodontist, Dr. Nawrocki is well aware of the connection between oral and cardiovascular health. To learn more or to schedule an appointment for a check-up or gum disease treatment during heart health month, give your Orange Park dentist a call at (904) 602-8396.