Does Dental Health Affect Heart Health?
Valentines Day, a day filled with love and hearts has come and gone, but did you know that you can keep your heart healthy with better oral care? Though the link between dental health and heart health is not completely clear, experts say it’s important to take care of both.
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, claiming around 610,000 lives each year. Nearly 1 in 3 lives are lost to heart disease and stroke each year. But research has found a link between this deadly disease and the health of your gums. According to a 2016 study by the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, having gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%
“Although the findings indicate a strong link between gum disease and heart disease, it’s still unclear whether one actually causes the other,” says the American Heart Association. The two conditions have some of the same risk factors, including smoking, poor nutrition, and diabetes. Researchers believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the connection.
Prevention truly is the best medicine. Regular, healthy habits can lower your risk of both gum disease and heart disease. And, if you already have one or both of these conditions, these strategies can help reduce their impact:
Brush and Floss Regularly
To remove plaque-forming bacteria, brush for at least two minutes, twice a day…and don’t skip the floss!
Eat a Healthy Diet
Choose a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary (vitamins A and C, in particular) to prevent gum disease.
Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are known to contribute to gum disease and oral cancer. They can also increase your chance of heart disease.
Visit the Dentist
Be sure to see your healthcare professional regularly for cleanings and exams. This is one of the most effective ways to detect the early signs of gum disease.
Know Your Risk
Age, family history, smoking, stress, poor diet, and genetics are among the risk factors for developing heart disease. Work with your physician and dentist on reducing heart disease risk, and ensuring proper dental care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 80% of cardiovascular disease is preventable. Along with a healthy diet, regular exercise and good oral health, heart and lung disease can be prevented! When your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good, too! So what are you waiting for? Start today!