February is American Heart Month, and you can begin to take care of your heart by taking care of your teeth and gums.
Almost 50% of Americans have some form of gum disease. This is important because those with gum disease are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. So, what is the connection?
Gum disease begins when the plaque that forms around the teeth is not adequately removed. This material is an aggregation of bacteria and bacterial waste products that irritates the gum tissues. If it is not removed, over time it will mineralize and become attached to the teeth like concrete. The body recognizes this material as a foreign invader and activates its immune system to get rid of it.
Think of a splinter!
Think of a splinter in your finger. Very quickly, if it is not removed, you will experience pain, swelling, redness, and heat in the affected area. Your body is sending its defenders to remove the splinter. Over time it can become infected. This same scenario plays out when the foreign invader is embedded in your gums.
The inflammatory process of the gums allows bacteria from the mouth to enter the blood stream. Now it joins other bacteria and cholesterol as it flows through the blood vessels. Recent studies have shown the presence of mouth-specific bacteria in cholesterol plaques of patients suffering from heart disease.
Rx for Dental/Heart Health
To aid in heart health, make sure you are removing plaque from the teeth by brushing meticulously twice daily for two minutes. Eat a heart healthy diet that consists mostly of vegetables and fruits, and limit your red meat intake. If you are a smoker, seek to cut your daily habit in half, moving toward a complete cessation.
See us a minimum of twice yearly to have your teeth cleaned professionally and checked for any evidence of gum disease, cavities, and oral cancer.
We are celebrating 25 years in dentistry this year! We hope to see you around for many years to come, so make a commitment to excellent dental, and therefore, heart health!