We all know that dental hygiene is important for your overall health, but did you know that it is in particular good for the heart?
Firstly, if you have gum disease in a moderate or advanced stage, you are at a higher risk of heart disease than someone with healthy gums. And second, your oral health can provide doctors with warning signs of diseases and conditions, including those in the heart.
So, how are these related?
Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria, and other germs, from our mouth to other parts of your body. Good oral hygiene and regular dental care are the most important ways to reduce risk of infective endocarditis, which is a heart infection caused by bacteria in the mouth.
According to the American Heart Association, other heart conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stoke have also been linked to inflammation cause by oral bacteria.
What are the symptoms and warning signs?
It is important to keep an eye out for gum disease, even if its in its early stages. Look out for these signs:
- If your gums are swollen, red and sore to the touch.
- If your gums bleed when you eat, brush or floss.
- If you see pus or other signs of infection around the teeth and gums.
- If your gums look as if they are “pulling away” from the teeth.
- If some of your teeth are loose or feel as if they are moving.
- If you frequently have bad breath or notice an ill taste in your mouth.
How to prevent gum disease?
Regular healthy habits will lower your risk of both gum and heart disease. This includes both good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentists for a teeth cleaning and check-up. Make sure that you also:
- Brush and floss regularly: to remove plaque forming bacteria.
- Choose a healthy diet: rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins A and C.
- Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco: these habits can increase the risk of getting heart disease and can destroy your gums.