Your Heart and Dental Health

February is heart health month. Many of us are aware that heart disease  is the number 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S claiming around 610,000 lives each year (Center for Disease Control).  Did you know that research has found a link between this deadly disease and the health of your gums?  Periodontitis , the swelling, bleeding, receding gums caused by some species of bacteria in our mouths, may raise the risk of a number or serious health conditions. That list includes stroke, respiratory illness, and cardiovascular disease.  Infection and inflammation in the mouth may also worsen adult onset (type 2) diabetes or cause premature birth.

For the first time in my life, I recently needed the expert advise from a periodontist.  I had an unfortunate situation with an implant and crown.  It caused me undue inflammation and pain.  I was referred to a periodontist who educated me about implants and how the gums and teeth react to this type of procedure.  Implants don’t work like regular teeth and therefore you need to do a bit more manual cleaning around the gums since they can hold more bacteria.  I learned more about different types of floss, picks and mouth washes that I ever knew existed.  I realized this was bigger than just alleviating the pain.  It was about keeping bacteria at bay.  I am now more than religious about flossing with a specific type of floss or pick  and to avoid certain foods that can get trapped.

A recent Scientific America Custom Media **journal discussed how inflammation around the gums triggers our immune system that fights bacterial invaders in the gum tissue.  The problem is that these bacterial microbes can slip into the bloodstream, settling into the arteries around the heart or may be inhaled into the lungs, causing pneumonia.  There is research that continues to explore the association between periodontal disease, inflammation and various medical conditions.

An awareness around the epidemic of poor dental health is now being sparked. The notion that the  mouth is not separate from the body and oral health is vital to general health and welfare is on the forefront of dental and nursing schools. Dental disease is not just limited to adults, but worldwide to babies and children.  How can you become proactive with your own healthcare and that or your family?

Start with prevention:

  • Brush teeth a minimum of 2 times a day for 2 minutes
  • floss at least once a day ( use a floss with a bit of texture)
  •  annual checkups are very important
  • decrease sugars, candy and  soda,
  • drink water to rinse out the mouth
  • don’t smoke
  •  eat real foods and chew chew chew- apples, celery, carrots

Not only will you have healthy gums and clean teeth  you will also have a beautiful smile and a healthier heart.

 

Happy Health Month,

Be Well,

   Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

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