We tend to think of February as the month of love. More often than not, when someone mentions February, our brains conjure up images of heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and romantic dinners with our partners. But did you know that February is also American Heart Month? That means it’s a perfect time to talk about how to take care of your heart by avoiding gum disease. That’s right; there’s a proven connection between gum disease and heart disease. Read more as a dentist in Manahawkin explains the link.
The Basics of Gum Disease
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is a bacterial infection in your gum tissue and the surrounding bone that supports your teeth. It starts out with mild symptoms, like bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and persistent bad breath, but it can quickly progress. If you don’t get gum disease treated soon enough, your teeth can loosen and even fall out! In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the United States. As a result, it’s imperative that you work as hard as you can to prevent it, not just for your oral health, but your cardiovascular health, too.
How Gum Disease Affects the Heart
A 2014 study of participants with both gum disease and heart disease showed that those who received treatment for their gum disease had lower overall costs for their cardiovascular care. This demonstrates that gum health definitely impacts heart health.
One popular theory for this connection is inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to infection. Inflammation that starts in the mouth can eventually spread to the heart and narrow important arteries, increasing your risk for problems like heart attack and stroke.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Besides eating right and exercising, taking care of your mouth is another great way to maintain excellent heart health. Here are some steps you should follow to keep periodontal disease at bay:
- Floss at least once a day.
- Brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and an ultra-soft brush so as not to irritate the gums.
- If you smoke or chew tobacco, consider quitting.
- Eat a diet low in processed sugars and high in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Visit your dentist in Manahawkin regularly for checkups and cleanings.
Just because February is American Heart Month doesn’t mean you should let your oral health fall by the wayside once March rolls around. Keep these tips in mind the whole year to have a healthy mouth and a healthy heart!
About the Author
Dr. Robert Young graduated at the top of his class from the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry. He holds Fellowships with both the Academy of General Dentistry and the International Congress of Oral Implantology. As a result, he is skilled in many aspects of dentistry, including periodontal therapy. If you think you may have gum disease, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Young’s office at (609) 597-1830.