We all know what to do (and what not to do) to prevent heart disease. Don't overeat salty or fatty foods. Get exercise and rest. Eat your vegetables. Take medications to prevent the worsening of an existing condition. But did you know that your oral health may also affect your risk of heart disease?
Studies show that regular brushing—a vital part of any oral care routine—may help to prevent heart disease.
Here's how it works.
The heart requires its own constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. If one of the two large, branching coronary arteries delivering oxygenated blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked, a portion of the heart is starved of oxygen. This is a condition called “cardiac ischemia.”
If cardiac ischemia lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies. This is otherwise known as a heart attack.
Studies are beginning to show that oral hygiene and gum disease may be related to serious conditions like heart disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (also called heart disease).
Another study found that oral health problems, including gum disease, cavities, and missing teeth, were good at predicting heart disease. While we can’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, there does appear to be a correlation between periodontal disease and heart health.
Here’s the good news. You can easily prevent dental plaque and tartar from building up on your teeth. It’s also within your power to prevent gum disease. All you have to do is maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine.
Our dentist recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time. You should also be flossing your teeth once a day. That way, you’ll be able to remove plaque and food particles hiding between teeth.
If we still find plaque and tartar buildup during your next appointment, we may recommend adding a fluoride mouth rinse to your routine. Fluoride helps to strengthen your tooth enamel, increasing its resistance to acid attacks from plaque.
It’s important that you see our dentist at least every 6 months for an oral examination and teeth cleaning. While you can remove plaque at home, only a dental professional will be able to remove tartar from your teeth and gums.
During your appointment, we’ll also examine your mouth and possibly take X-rays. That way, we’ll be able to catch small oral health issues before they have a chance to develop.
So, listen to the advice of dentists everywhere. Give your heart a break, brush your teeth, and floss daily. Also, avoid acidic and sugary foods. The more you take care of your oral health, the more the rest of your body will benefit.
We’re changing the world one smile at a time! Are you ready to take the next step?
Dr. Dawn Baker is a family dentist in Gahanna, OH, who recognizes the importance of preventive care. To request an appointment with Dr. Baker, please feel free to call Pure Dental at (614) 475-7580. We hope to hear from you soon!