When you think of the month of February, you probably envision hearts, chocolates, and romance. But that isn’t all that February is about. It’s also Heart Health Awareness Month. You might be aware that eating right and exercising are great ways to keep your heart in good shape, but did you know that taking care of your oral health can improve your heart? That’s because people who have gum disease are at a higher risk of developing heart problems. Learn how you can take care of your oral and cardiovascular health from a dentist in Friendship Heights.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is, more often than not, the result of poor oral hygiene. When you neglect to brush and floss, plaque builds up on your teeth and hardens into a substance called tartar. Tartar is chock full of harmful bacteria that can inflame and infect the gum tissue, which is known as periodontal (gum) disease. What starts out as a minor infection that causes bleeding or red gums can result in your teeth eventually loosening and falling out if you don’t get it treated.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Your Heart?
Although the exact relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular health remains unproven, there are a couple of prevailing theories. One posits that the bacteria present in the mouth set off a chain reaction of inflammation throughout the body, causing important arteries in the heart to narrow.
Another theory states that bacteria travel into the bloodstream via the pockets they create between the teeth and gums. From there, bacteria can make their way into the heart and wreak havoc.
How Can You Prevent Gum Disease?
To protect the safety of your heart, it’s important to take good care of your teeth and gums by sticking to the following steps:
- Brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Floss at least once per day.
- Rinse with antibacterial mouthwash every day.
- Refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and raw vegetables.
- See your dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings.
- Let your dentist know right away if your gums bleed when you brush and floss.
Now you know that taking care of your heart involves more than getting enough exercise. Who knew that brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments could save your life?
About the Author
Dr. Yelena Obholz received her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the prestigious New York University College of Dentistry. She then completed a residency at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn, where she did advanced work in periodontics, or the treatment of the gums. She is currently enrolled in the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies to keep up with the latest in dental treatments and technologies. If you think you may have gum disease, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Obholz at (202) 364-8209.