Healthy Smile

Improving Heart Health with a Healthy Smile

February is about more than just Valentine’s Day. It’s also National Tooth Fairy Day, Snodgrass King’s Free Dental Day (Feb. 27th 7 a.m.-3p.m.), and American Heart Month!

About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year- that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Well, did you know that oral health and heart disease are connected?

How Is Oral Health Related To Heart Health?

Heart disease, which is also referred to as cardiovascular disease, occurs when blood vessels either narrow or become completely blocked, a condition that can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or chest pain.

According to Delta Dental, there is now evidence of two specific links between oral health and heart disease. First, studies show that if you have gum disease in a moderate or advanced stage, you’re at greater risk for heart disease than someone with healthy gums. Secondly, our oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for a range of diseases and conditions.

Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria from your mouth to other parts of your body through the blood stream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. The Mayo Clinic said this can lead to illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, which are clogged arteries, and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

Periodontitis and heart disease share risk factors such as smoking, age, and diabetes. These factors all contribute to inflammation in the body.

You may have periodontal disease, also known as gum disease if you are experiencing these symptoms:

  • Red, swollen gums that are sore to the touch
  • Gums bleed when you eat, brush or floss
  • Gums look as if they’re “pulling away” from the teeth
  • You see puss or other signs of infection around the gums and teeth
  • You frequently have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Your teeth feel loose
How to Prevent Gum Disease

Good oral hygiene isn’t just for your kids! Regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against gum disease. You should brush at least twice a day for two minutes and floss once daily. Be proactive about your oral health and help prevent a connection between oral health and heart disease. Make your dentist appointment today and ensure your mouth is healthy!