Valentine’s Day is on the minds of many in the weeks leading up to February, but that’s not the only reason you should be thinking about your heart! February is also American Heart Month, a time dedicated to concentrating on your cardiovascular health. While eating the right foods and regular exercise can improve your heart health, so can taking good care of your smile. Read on to learn about the relationship between your heart and oral health as well as what you can do to keep both in good shape.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums that’s often the result of poor oral hygiene. It’s a very common issue with nearly half of American adults over age 30 suffering from some form of it. The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is easy enough to cure. Left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis, which is characterized by gum recession, loose teeth, tooth loss, and deterioration of the jawbone.

How Gum Disease Can Harm Your Heart

Though gum disease starts in the mouth, it’s not limited to the oral cavity and can damage other parts of the body. Those who have gum disease are more likely to suffer from other health issues, including heart disease. An article by Harvard Health Publishing said that those with gum disease are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or another major cardiovascular event. The same article also states that acute inflammation, the body’s response to sudden damage, fosters healing over the short term. But, if it develops into chronic inflammation, this may contribute to many health problems, including a thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a plaque buildup called atherosclerosis.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

Though gum disease is incredibly common, it’s also easy to prevent. Some ways you can lessen your chances of getting gum disease include:

  • Brush – Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste twice per day to remove bacteria, food particles, and protect your teeth from harm.
  • Floss – Before you go to bed, floss your teeth to remove food lodged between them and to remove 40% of plaque.
  • Say no to tobacco – Smoking cigarettesdoubles your chances of developing gum disease, so speak with your dentist, doctor, or therapist for help quitting.
  • Visit the dentist – Make a point of seeing your dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups. During these visits, they’ll be able to determine if you’re at risk of gum disease and administer treatment if necessary.

People of certain ages, who eat specific diets, and who have a genetic predisposition to periodontal disease are at higher risk of developing it. By using the above tips and visiting your dentist every six months, you can keep your mouth and heart as healthy as possible!

About the Author

Dental Center of Jacksonville knows that a healthy heart starts with a healthy body. That’s why they take pride in teaching their patients the right way to care for their smiles. They offer an array of exceptional oral health services to the whole family and do everything they can to make sure you leave their office feeling better than when you arrived. Are you interested in setting up an appointment with Dental Center of Jacksonville or do you want more information on their service offerings? If so, call their office at (904) 262-9466 or visit their website to get started.