Other than Valentine’s Day, February is known for being American Heart Health Month. You might try boosting your cardiovascular well-being by going to the gym more frequently or eating a vitamin-rich diet. Did you know taking care of your smile is also crucial for maintaining a healthy heart? According to recent studies, those with neglected teeth and gums are more likely to experience more serious systemic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease. Keep reading to learn about the connection between your heart and oral health, and how you can preserve both.
The Relationship Between Cardiovascular Disease & Gingivitis
According to decades of research, over 90% of systemic health issues like osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer show symptoms in the oral cavity that dentists can detect. That’s because the mouth is basically a window to the rest of the body. This also means that unchecked oral health problems can end up increasing the risk of concerns like memory loss, premature births, and respiratory infections.
Of all the associated complications that come with poor oral health, one particular connection to consider is that between the cardiovascular system and gum disease. Those who are struggling with gingivitis have a much higher rate of experiencing events like heart attacks or strokes compared to those with healthier gums. This is most likely due to the harmful bacteria in the tissues (and the accompanying inflammation) becoming strong enough to escape into the bloodstream, allowing them to travel throughout the body. If left untreated, this situation can end up restricting the arteries and cause the inner linings within the heart to swell.
How Does Smiling Benefit Your Heart Health?
Since patients with gingivitis have an increased risk of heart disease of 20% or more, you must maintain great oral health to prevent further complications. That said, preserving strong and beautiful pearly whites doesn’t only avoid systemic issues but also improves their appearance, encouraging you to smile more often. Studies show that the simple act of grinning or laughing can trigger releases of components like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin in the brain. This can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and increase relaxation, boosting your heart health down the road.
6 Ways to Preserve Your Smile & Cardiovascular Health
Here are several habits to implement if you want to maintain a healthy heart and smile:
- Brush your teeth and gums twice a day for two full minutes.
- Floss every day or after every meal and rinse often with mouthwash.
- Look out for indications of gingivitis and seek treatment sooner rather than later.
- Eat a vitamin-rich, low-sugar diet and drink plenty of water.
- Schedule dental checkups and cleanings every six months.
Having great oral health is much more important than avoiding cavities and stains. Take care of your teeth and gums, and you’ll be sure to promote a healthier heart and better quality of life!
About the Author
Dr. Shaheera Afzal earned her dental doctorate from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. She’s also an active member of the American Dental Association and the Ohio Dental Association. She provides multiple first-rate treatments, including dental checkups/cleanings and periodontal therapy. If you need to schedule an appointment, visit her website or call 614-792-1800.