Maintaining a healthy smile with great dental hygiene is a reward in and of itself, but there are some other benefits to good oral care that may be even more significant. Poor oral hygiene has been connected to a few health conditions, including one of the leading causes of death in America today — heart disease.
But while this news is something to take seriously, there is no reason to panic. By regularly brushing and flossing and going in for biannual teeth cleanings, you can protect your overall health and work to avoid related medical conditions.
How Are Dental Health and Heart Health Related?
It may seem like an unusual connection, but there is a significant relationship between poor oral health and an elevated risk of heart disease. That relationship exists for a few reasons.
Inflammation is tied to a vast array of minor and severe medical conditions. Some of those conditions include IBS, ulcerative colitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. That inflammation can begin in a variety of ways, and one of them is gum disease.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums, most often caused by poor oral hygiene. It occurs when bacteria-filled plaque hangs around in the mouth, hardens into tartar, and begins to infect the gum tissue.
Gum disease is considered to be a chronic inflammatory disease, and if left unchecked, it can cause a chain reaction of inflammation throughout the body, increasing the risk of heart disease.
Our mouths are full of all kinds of bacteria, both good and bad. When you don’t commit to regular teeth cleaning, the bad bacteria have an opportunity to flourish and cause all kinds of issues with your oral health. Those issues include tooth decay, tooth infections, gum disease, and more.
But it’s just not your oral health that those bacteria can wreak havoc on. They can eventually find their way to other parts of the body and cause infection and inflammation. The inflammatory response can cause a domino effect that can ultimately impact heart health.
Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease is the oral health issue most closely connected to heart disease. This infection of the gums, also referred to as periodontal disease or periodontitis, can be cured in its earliest stage. Still, it can only be managed and treated after it has been allowed to develop into full-blown gum disease.
To catch it as early as possible, keep an eye out for the following signs:
- Swollen or red gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Receding gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
These are signs of gingivitis, which is the earliest form of gum disease. If you notice any of these signs, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible for a routine exam and teeth cleaning.
How to Ensure Great Oral Health and Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
You may be alarmed by the connection between heart disease and oral health issues, and that’s good. There is nothing like a little bit of well-founded fear to help us take action. Fortunately, protecting your oral health and, therefore, your overall health is not too difficult.
Include the following steps in your oral care routine to keep gum disease and resulting heart issues at bay.
Brush Twice a Day
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day every day, and every time, you should brush for at least two minutes. It’s also important to brush in small circles and to be careful to cover every surface of your teeth.
Floss Once a Day
Even the most thorough toothbrushing won’t be able to remove all of the food debris and bacteria from your mouth. That’s why it’s critical to floss your teeth daily to reach the areas a brush cannot.
Get a Teeth Cleaning Twice a Year
Brushing and flossing will get you far, but they won’t quite get you far enough on their own. You should also see your dentist for a routine exam and teeth cleaning every six months. During this appointment, your dentist will use special tools to access parts of your mouth that dental floss and a toothbrush cannot reach.
Protect Your Oral Health with Dr. Brett Langston
Schedule your routine exam and teeth cleaning today by calling Dental Implant & Aesthetic Specialists. We can help you protect both your oral and your overall health.