Since October is National Dental Hygiene Month, we wanted to take some time to shed some light on how your oral health can affect your overall health. Everyone knows that brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing, and visiting the dentist on a routine basis can help us maintain good oral hygiene and keep our smiles looking great. Many people don’t know that keeping our teeth and gums healthy is not just good for our mouths but is vital to protecting our overall health!
Recent studies have shown that infections in the mouth (particularly periodontitis or gum disease) can lead to many significant and chronic illnesses. Researchers have discovered connections between gum disease and issues like:
- Heart disease
- Complications during pregnancy
So let’s talk about Gum Disease and Heart Disease. These two diseases are connected in several ways. First, when your gums are damaged, bacteria resulting from chronic inflammation enter your bloodstream directly through your gums. These bacteria travel to the arteries in your heart, where they settle on existing plaque and form clots. Another connection is that the chemicals emitted by chronic gum inflammation cause atherosclerosis, or the clogging and hardening of artery walls. This blocks blood flow to the heart and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Bacteria from gum disease can also cause endocarditis or inflammation of the inner lining of your heart. That is why it is so important to maintain good oral hygiene.
The message is clear: taking good care of your gums is about more than just saving your teeth – it’s about keeping your whole body healthy. To discourage gum disease and the problems that often accompany it, remember to:
- Brush your teeth after every meal (or at least morning and night) with fluoride toothpaste.
- Chew sugarless gum after meals if you can’t brush your teeth.
- Floss daily.
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash after brushing and flossing to kill lingering bacteria.
- Visit us at Cox Family Dentistry every six months for a cleaning and dental checkup.
If it’s been a while since you last saw a dentist, you could be in the early stages of gum disease and not even know it. Schedule an appointment at Cox Family Dentistry in Plano so we can check the status of your teeth and gums and recommend a treatment plan if necessary.