A fact that you have probably heard over and over again from different sources is that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., so taking any action to lower your risk is always considered a good idea. For most people, this usually leads them to start exercising and alter their diet, both of which can have tangible benefits. However, there is something else that might be increasing your chances of having a heart attack or stroke that has nothing to do with what you eat or your genetics. Both the American Dental Association and the American Heart Association have recently acknowledged there is a definitive connection between gum disease in West Seneca and heart disease. Why is this the case, and what can you do to protect yourself from both of these problems?
Everything is Connected
In the past decade or so, researchers have taken a much closer look at how oral health and overall health are connected, and the general consensus is that they are very intertwined. In the case of gum disease and heart disease, for example, studies have shown that when a person has gum disease, their risk for heart disease goes up by about 20%. This is alarming in itself, but how can a problem in your mouth affect your heart?
The answer is something called the oral-systemic connection. Basically, it says that pretty much anything in your mouth can travel everywhere else in your body. This is easy to comprehend when you think about something like digestion. Food enters the mouth, is broken down, and eventually it is introduced into the blood stream as energy, able to travel all throughout the body.
Unfortunately, this connection also means that harmful things, like bacteria, can easily enter the body through the mouth as well. When gum disease bacteria is allowed to build up in the mouth, it can eventually enter the blood stream because the gums are very vascular structures (meaning they contain a lot of blood vessels), and many scientists believe that it then causes inflammation that leads to a dangerous narrowing of the arteries, making them more likely to become blocked.
How to Protect Your Smile & Your Heart
While this might seem like bad news on the surface, it actually has a positive side. Simply by taking care of your teeth and gums, you can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease. Here are a few things you can do to prevent the onset of gum disease:
- Brush and floss your teeth every day, paying particular attention to cleaning your teeth below the gum line.
- Limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks that bolster oral bacteria production.
- Visit your dentist in West Seneca for routine checkups and cleanings so they can remove plaque and bacteria from those hard to reach areas in your mouth.
Better Smile, Better Health
Every year, more and more research is revealing just how important dental health is to someone’s general wellbeing, and this connection between gum and heart disease is just one of many examples. So yes, be sure to hit the gym and watch your diet if you are looking to improve your heart health this year, but do not forget to brush your teeth either!
About the Author
Dr. Sanford Eisen has been practicing dentistry in the West Seneca area for over 40 years, and he has seen firsthand just how important a person’s oral health is to the rest of their body. To learn more about how taking care of your teeth can help you from head to toe, he can be contacted through his website.