Dental Hygiene and the Heart

Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums is crucial to overall health. With an unhealthy mouth, the likelihood of developing gum disease increases, as well as the risk of other serious health problems such as a heart attack, stroke, bone loss and more. More than 500 species of bacteria thrive in your mouth at any given time and are continuously forming dental plaque that clings to your teeth and can harden into tartar. If dental plaque builds up, it can cause a broad range of health problems.

Your mouth is a window to your overall health, helping to signal the body of certain conditions or diseases. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms. Research has also shown that people who have poor oral health (such as gum disease or tooth loss) have higher rates of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke than people with good oral health. To prevent dental-related heart problems, follow these tips:

Drink More Water
Saliva is your mouth’s first defense against tooth decay. It helps break down food and wash away food debris. If you don’t produce enough saliva, drinking more water can be a helpful way to wash away bacteria and ensure saliva is produced at an optimal rate.

Brush Twice a Day
Brush your teeth twice a day and brush properly. Your toothbrush should be placed at a 45° angle along the gum line and then rotated away from the gum as you brush. Using short strokes, gently brush the inside, outside and top of each tooth. Remember to brush your tongue to eliminate additional bacteria.

Floss Regularly
Flossing plays a significant role in dental health. It cleans the tight spaces between the teeth that the toothbrush can’t reach and the mouthwash can’t remove. Flossing also eliminates plaque before it has the chance to harden into tartar. Plaque doesn’t harden into tartar until it’s been untouched for a long time, and flossing daily can prevent this buildup.

Enjoy a Teeth-Friendly Diet
Limit sodas, caffeine, and alcohol. If you do consume any of these items, be sure to drink plenty of water shortly after. Protect tooth enamel by eating phosphorus-rich foods such as meat, tofu, and fatty fish. Cheese, yogurt, leafy greens, apples, carrots, celery and almonds are more foods that can benefit dental health.

Regular Checkups
Visiting the dentist every six months is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Not only do dentists clean your teeth, but they also ensure your teeth and gums are healthy and other health issues are addressed. They are more familiar with the signs, symptoms or abnormalities that you may be unaware of such as oral cancer, gum disease or even swollen lymph nodes. Going to the dentist could end up saving you time, money and even your life.