By Candace McAfee on Feb 3, 2022 @ 12:00 PM
February is American Heart Month - and not just because of Valentine’s Day! American Heart Month brings attention to heart disease prevention. The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, with one in four deaths caused by the condition each year. So, how can you prevent heart disease?
Surprisingly, one tip to keep your heart healthy is visiting the dentist. Studies show that people who have mild to serious cases of gum disease are more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease. Swelling inside the mouth is a common symptom of gum disease, and it is like the swelling of the arteries found in patients with heart problems. Elevated levels of C-reactive proteins can occur in more advanced cases of gum disease. These prominent levels also indicate an increased risk for heart attack. In fact, doctors have found the same bacteria in the mouths of patients with gum disease as that in hardening arteries. Some research even shows that oral illnesses could be a more serious risk factor for heart attack than smoking or conditions such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Warning Signs of Gum Disease
Half of American adults have gum disease. Many of them do not realize they are dealing with a serious condition. Even though the early symptoms can be fixed easily, the problem can turn into an infection, and the effects may be permanent. Smoking can increase your risk for gum and tooth related issues, and so can side effects from other diseases and medications. Create a healthy brushing and flossing routine, and seek out professional care. Here are some warning signs you should watch out for:
- Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing
- Red, tender, or swollen gums
- Bad breath that does not go away or a persistent bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Gums that are pulling away from your teeth or a receding gum line
It's very important that you visit a dentist twice a year for an exam and dental cleaning. During your visit, the dentist will check for signs of gum disease. He or she will also deeply clean your teeth to remove build up and bacteria, which play a role in the development of gum disease.
Doctors have found that patients who have healthy dental habits pay more attention to their well-being than people with unhealthy lifestyles. Study your routine and be smart about keeping better habits. Along with regular dental visits, you should also floss daily and brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. By following these steps, you can help keep your mouth and heart healthy for years to come.