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A Healthy Heart Starts with Your Mouth

February 24, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_carter @ 10:24 pm

Red heart cupped in handsNearly 700,000 Americans die every year from heart disease. February is American Heart Month, dedicated to raising awareness of factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease. Your diet, genetics, and lifestyle factors influence your risk, but your dental health can also affect your heart. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 50% of Americans have a form of gum disease. Here’s what you need to know to keep your heart and gums healthy.

Gum Disease and Heart Health

Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar buildup from poor dental hygiene. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of the infection, which causes red, swollen, and bleeding gums. It’s easy to treat with a deep cleaning and improved oral hygiene. However, with no treatment, it can progress to advanced periodontitis. At this point, gum disease can spread to surrounding tissues and destroy the supporting structures of teeth. Eventually, your teeth can loosen and fall out.

Researchers have found that bacteria from gum disease may enter the bloodstream through the pressure of chewing. As it circulates your body, it can increase your risk of many health problems, including heart disease.

The infection can cause plaque and inflammation in the arteries, making your heart work harder to pump blood. You can be at risk of hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes. The risks of gum disease don’t end there. Researchers have also linked it to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, preterm delivery, and many other complications. 

How to Prevent Gum Disease

Although gum disease is common, it is almost 100% preventable. Good oral hygiene is the best way to keep the infection at bay. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice daily to remove food residue and plaque. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste to brush for 2 minutes.

While brushing is effective, your toothbrush can’t reach everywhere, leaving up to 40% of your teeth surfaces uncleaned. Flossing is the only way to clean areas your toothbrush can’t reach. Use high-quality floss or a waterflosser daily to clean between teeth and around your gum line. Finish your routine with an antimicrobial mouthwash. 

Besides caring for your mouth at home, visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. They will monitor your dental health to detect any changes early, like gum inflammation. Your dentist will stop the infection in its tracks to keep your mouth and heart healthy.

About Dr. Shariq Zafrani

Dr. Zafrani earned his dental degree from the Dental College of Georgia and has regularly continued his education to provide advanced services, like periodontal therapy. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the Georgia Dental Association. Request an appointment through his website or call his office at (770) 574-4540 

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