How to Keep Your Heart Healthy By Taking Care of Your Smile
When talking about problems of the heart vs. those of the mouth, you may think it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but the truth is there is a connection. Choosing to neglect good oral hygiene can lead to serious cardiovascular problems that will require medical attention. Since February is American Heart Health Month, discover how your smile can play a pivotal role in lowering your risk for disease and helping you live a longer life.
The Link Between Your Heart and Your Smile
The link that ties the heart to your smile can be summed up in two words: gum disease. When tiny particles and bacteria manage to pass through the soft oral tissues that surround your teeth, they can enter the bloodstream and begin to attack your immune system. Normally, this area remains tight and “sealed,” keeping anything harmful out, but should an infection develop (gum disease), the gums begin to pull away, providing an opening to bad bacteria.
If left untreated, not only can you experience bone and tooth loss, but the infection within your gums can travel to your heart and cause inflammation within the blood vessels. As a result, you can experience a heart attack or stroke due to a blockage formed by a blood clot.
What You Can Do to Keep Your Heart Healthy
The first thing you should do is adopt a good oral hygiene routine. This includes:
- Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Flossing at least once a day before bedtime to eliminate plaque and food particles from between your teeth.
- Quit smoking, as this weakens your immune system and causes your smile to appear dull and lackluster.
- Continue visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. If you suffer from gum disease, make sure to visit a periodontist for follow-ups.
- Determine your potential risk for heart disease by making healthy changes to your diet, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, and finding ways to reduce stress in your life.
If you’re unsure how to brush or floss your teeth correctly, you can always ask a dental professional for help.
Because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, make sure you’re doing everything you can to lower your risk. By starting with your smile, you’ll be putting yourself on the right path to a longer, happier, life.