Seeing your dentist in Madison in order to protect your heart may seem like strange advice, but in fact, there is a strong connection between oral health and heart health. To help celebrate Heart Health Month this February, we’d like to educate our patients and neighbors on just how important regular dental care is to protect not only your mouth but also your heart.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease
The main connection between oral health and heart health lies in the gums. Years of research support a positive correlation between gum disease and the increased risk for complications with heart health. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry states that those with gum disease are more likely to suffer a heart attack than those without gum disease. But how does gum health directly affect heart health? It all has to do with the way gum inflammation and infection can affect your heart.
How Can Gum Infections Give You a Heart Attack?
Even though infection of the gums may seem like no cause for concern, nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only does gum disease put your whole body at risk for problems such as diabetic complications and lung conditions, but it can also directly affect your heart health. When gums become infected, the bacteria that caused the infection in the first place aren’t isolated to just the mouth. They can easily enter the bloodstream and cause your body to over-produce something called C-reactive protein (CRP). Increased levels of CRP is a known precursor to heart attacks. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, elevated CRP levels can be more accurate at predicting a heart attack than high cholesterol.
Signs of Gum Disease
Knowing the signs of gum disease can go a long way in getting it treated early before your risk of other health concerns increases. Some common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Consistently bad breath
- Chronic bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth
What You Do to Protect Yourself
The best way to protect yourself from the dangers of gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene habits at home as well as visit your dentist in Madison at least twice a year for regular checkups. Make sure to brush and floss every single day to remove bacteria and plaque buildup, try to eat a well-balanced diet with limited sugary and acidic foods, and of course, avoid tobacco. It’s also important to share any health problems, changes in your health history, and medications with your dentist at each visit.
This Heart Health Month, and every month, take the steps to protect your oral health. It may just save your life.