Though many people associate February with Valentine’s Day, it’s also American Heart Health Month! This is a time dedicated to focusing on your cardiovascular health and learning how you can take better care of your heart. Eating well, exercising, and reducing stress are all ways to keep your heart in good condition, but how does your smile affect your cardiovascular health? Read on to learn how not maintaining good oral health and developing issues like gum disease can hurt your heart.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums that is most often the cause of poor oral hygiene. The first stage of gum disease, which is called gingivitis, is easy to treat and even reverse. It’s characterized by gums that are red, tender, or inflamed. If it progresses into periodontitis, a more serious infection, this can lead to tooth loss, jawbone deterioration, and gum recession.
The Link Between Gum Disease & Your Heart
You may be wondering: if gum disease is located in the mouth, how can it be linked to heart health? Untreated gum disease can spread beyond the oral cavity and lead to complications in other parts of the body. An article from Harvard Health Publishing found that people with gum infections are up to three times more likely than those without them to have a major cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or a stroke.
The article also discusses how prolonged inflammation can cause heart issues. Though acute inflammation helps fight infections and speeds up the healing process, chronic inflammation can contribute to several health problems, including atherosclerosis. This condition is characterized by a thickening or hardening of the arteries, which can result in strokes or heart attacks.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Fortunately, gum disease is easy to prevent. The best ways to keep this oral health issue from developing include:
- Brush – Every morning and every night, brush your teeth for two minutes to remove buildups of plaque, food particles, and harmful oral bacteria.
- Floss – Be sure to floss at least once per day, preferably before bed. This will get rid of food particles and plaque that can’t be reached with brushing alone.
- Say no to tobacco – Smoking makes you several times more likely to develop gum disease. If you need help quitting, ask for support from loved ones and speak to your dentist, therapist, or doctor about resources.
- Visit the dentist – Biannual visits to your dentist allow your hygienist to thoroughly clean your teeth and your dentist to identify and treat early signs of a gum infection.
If you want to keep your heart as healthy as possible, make sure to take good care of your pearly whites. This will keep your cardiovascular system functioning at its best and will allow you to maintain a beautiful, brag-worthy smile!
About the Practice
Are your gums swollen, red, or tender? If so, Dr. Richard Fossum, Dr. Courtney Grosskopf, and their talented Temple team can help. They offer gum disease therapy using treatments like scaling and root planning, Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP), and ARESTIN. They can also recommend better ways to practice good oral hygiene so you can avoid issues with gum infections in the future. If you’re ready to set up an appointment or want more information on gum disease treatment, call their office at (254) 778-3900 or visit their website.