Healthy Mouth, Healthy Heart
We all know that it’s important to take care of our health, but that’s often easier said than done. Health and hygiene routines are an investment of your time every day. So, wouldn’t it be great if you could accomplish more by actually doing less? As it turns out, when it comes to oral health and heart health, you can! Taking care of one is actually taking care of the other. Count that as one less thing you have to do each day. Onalaska dentist Dr. RJ Ochsner explains how oral health and heart health are closely connected.
How Your Mouth Affects Your Heart
There are a number of ways that your oral health is directly related to your heart health. What we know for sure is:
- If you have gum disease, you have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation, and it ranges in severity. Inflammation is a normal immune response in your body, but too much of it (like gum disease) is not good. Bacteria in your mouth enter your bloodstream through your gums and can cause a number of heart problems. Bacteria in your mouth can also cause your liver to overproduce certain proteins, which inflame your blood vessels.
- Signs of gum disease include red, swollen, bleeding, and receding gums. Treating gum disease can help lower inflammation in other parts of your body. See your Onalaska dentist immediately if you think you have any problems with your gums.
- If you have a lot of plaque buildup on your teeth, it can be a sign that you have similar build up in your blood vessels, which is very dangerous. A number of other diagnostic tests use samples from your mouth to look for any signs of pathogens throughout your body.
- Heart conditions might affect how you receive dental care, so it’s important that your dentist knows your full health history. If you have any history of pacemakers, antibiotics, blood thinners, heart attacks, or stroke, tell your dentist to before going into any cleaning or treatment.
The Big Picture
Dentists, medical doctors, and researchers are working hard to better understand these links between oral health and overall health. Gum disease isn’t yet proven to directly cause heart disease, but they are proven to be very closely connected and frequently happen at the same time. Your mouth may feel far away from your heart in the whole scope of your body, but because your mouth is full of blood vessels, bacteria and germs can quickly travel from your mouth to anywhere else in the body! Seeing the dentist and taking good care of your mouth sets the foundation for good oral health and overall health. Of course, diet is a major link between your oral health and heart health as well. Diets high in fat, sugar, salt, and acids will negatively affect both your mouth and your heart. So eat a balanced diet full of unprocessed foods that prevent health problems and support overall wellness. You can protect your heart by keeping your mouth clean!
The American Dental Association says that the best ways to maintain oral health are:
- Brush your teeth twice per day
- Floss or clean between your teeth once per day
- Eat a balanced diet with limited snacking
- See a dental professional regularly