Overall vs. Oral Health – What is the Connection?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is not only essential for the prevention of bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Research has now shown that there is a strong correlation between gum disease and heart disease. The same plaque that accumulates on your teeth can lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you think about it, daily brushing, flossing and regular check-ups aren’t just about saving your teeth- it’s about protecting your cardiovascular system and even saving your life.
What is the Perio-Cardio Connection?
During the stages of gum disease, bacteria and toxins from infected gums may access our bloodstream and travel to the heart. According to one theory, when the bacteria travel into the blood stream, it attaches to fatty plaque in the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels of the heart. In heart disease, the arterial walls thicken with this buildup, and the result can lead to clot formations and blockages.
Studies have shown that the bacteria within the plaque found on our teeth, is the same bacteria that are found in the plaque, which builds up along the inner walls of the coronary arteries of patients suffering from coronary artery disease. More simply put, the bacteria that builds up under our gums is the same bacteria which causes the inflammation and plaque buildup on our coronary arteries.
Avoid Periodontal Disease: Prevention is Key
Avoid gum disease and break the link with heart disease. When it comes to prevention it is important to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use a fluoride toothpaste and brush for two minutes at a time. Ideally you should brush after each meal and it is vital, as well, to brush your teeth before you go to bed every night. By maintaining good dental hygiene, you will have healthier teeth and gums.
Begin a flossing habit. Try to floss as often as you would brush because cleaning between your teeth is the only way to remove the plaque that your toothbrush cannot reach. If you smoke, stop. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, smoking may be one of the most significant risk factors in periodontal disease.
Additionally, eating a healthy diet is very important in maintaining your oral health. Eating a healthy diet is essential as vitamin and other nutrient deficiencies will make it harder for your immune system to function at optimum levels. Regular checkups with your dentist are important, as well, because your dentist will be able to accurately detect early signs of infection.
Although you may not be able to guarantee that you will never have a heart attack, you may be able to reduce your risk by daily brushing and flossing. Visit your Roswell dentist for an exam and cleaning as your dentist recommends because sometimes gum disease occurs without any visible warning signs. Only a dental professional can remove the tartar and plaque you may miss at home. Protect your teeth and you can guard your heart.
In April 2012, the American Heart Association released a formal scientific statement in their journal, Circulation, stating that periodontal disease and heart disease are associated independent of common risk factors. The statement formerly recognizes this relationship; however the AHA maintains that more research is required in order to establish grounds for a causal relationship. This statement is supported by American Academy of Periodontology.