February is American Heart Month, which means that countless people are thinking about what they can do to improve their cardiovascular health. Diet and exercise may be at the center of their attention. But did you know that your oral health can also have an effect on your heart? In this article, we will discuss the troubling link between gum disease in Northborough and heart health problems. We will also provide some tips to help you improve your overall wellness.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Problems
Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the link between heart problems and gum disease. While results vary slightly from study to study, researchers have consistently found that gum disease is correlated with an elevated risk of heart problems, such as atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the arteries) and heart attack.
What is the reason behind the association between gum disease and heart health issues? More research is necessary before scientists can say anything with certainty, but there are a few possible explanations:
- Bacteria. The bacteria that cause gum disease can get into the bloodstream and affect other bodily systems. Scientists have even found oral bacteria in the fatty deposits of people with atherosclerosis.
- Inflammation. Gum disease increases the body’s overall burden of inflammation, and inflammation can contribute to many health problems, including heart conditions.
- Common risk factors. Gum disease and heart disease have some common risk factors, such as smoking and poor dietary choices, that can contribute to both conditions simultaneously.
What You Can Do
There are some practical steps that you can take during Heart Health Month (and well into the future) that may prove beneficial for both your oral health and your cardiovascular wellness:
- Know the signs and symptoms of gum disease. Swollen gums that bleed easily when you brush are one of the most recognizable signs of gum disease. If your gums do not feel healthy, you should seek treatment right away.
- Visit your dentist for preventive care. Regular checkups and cleanings (once every six months or so) can do much to rid the mouth of harmful bacteria and lower your risk of gum disease.
- Stick to excellent oral hygiene habits. Thorough brushing and flossing help to prevent disease-causing bacteria from accumulating in the mouth.
- Battle bad habits. If you smoke, every effort you make to kick the habit will be worth it. You should also evaluate your dietary choices; eating a lot of sugar or saturated fats is bad for your overall health.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Fortunately, there are practical things you can do — including caring for your gums — that can help you to protect your precious heart.
Meet the Practice
The four dentists at Northborough Dental Associates have decades of combined experience, and they are proud to put their expertise to work for their patients. They offer services that are designed to both prevent and treat gum disease. If you are concerned about your gum health, our team would be pleased to help you. Contact us at 508-466-7091.