Why Taking Care of Your Teeth is Important for Your Heart
That’s right. If you want to take care of your heart, be sure to take care of your teeth.
Good oral hygiene habits are critical for your teeth and gums and for your general health, including the health of your “ticker.”
In fact, links have been established between oral health and a range of diseases. And many diseases can be detected through oral examinations: 90% of systemic diseases (diseases that affect the body as a whole) have oral manifestations or signs that are apparent in and around the mouth.
So don’t think of a dental check-up as a way to look after just your teeth and gums; it’s actually a brilliant way to protect your overall health, at any age.
It’s important to understand how your oral health can affect your general health. The relationship has a lot to do with the health of your gums. Gum (or periodontal) disease, when left untreated, can lead to a host of health problems and diseases.
As explained by the American Dental Association, “… gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth.” Gum disease is most often caused by poor oral hygiene – in other words, by not brushing thoroughly or frequently enough, and not flossing on a daily basis. This allows the bacteria in plaque (a sticky film that covers the teeth) and calculus to stay on the teeth and infect the gums. If it remains on the teeth long enough, it will harden and form tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional in a clinic.
Both gum disease and cardiovascular disease are chronic inflammatory diseases. When gum disease goes untreated, it can increase inflammation in the body, which may increase the risk for development of more severe health complications. For example, inflammation can occur in the arteries, where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Additionally, several species of bacteria that cause gum disease have been found in the atherosclerotic plaque in arteries in the heart, and this plaque can lead to a heart attack.
Establishing good oral hygiene habits is one very easy way to protect your heart. Brush well, floss daily and see your dentist for a professional cleaning every six months. Your heart will thank you.