We’ve always known that brushing our teeth and flossing regularly are effective in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. But there may be more to brushing and flossing than we previously thought, as studies now show a connection between heart disease and an individual’s oral health.
Although the exact relationship between the two is still under examination, it seems that people who take good care of their teeth are less likely to suffer from heart-related illnesses. In fact, research done by the American Academy of Periodontology found that individuals who suffer from gum disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease. One study even indicated that problems found in the mouth, such as cavities, gum disease and missing teeth, are almost as accurate at predicting heart disease as examining cholesterol levels can be.
Researchers have provided a couple of explanations worth considering. We already know that bacteria in our mouths enter the bloodstream. Therefore, it is possible that these bacteria may cling to fatty plaque contained in the arteries. This could cause blockage that affects an individual’s heart.
We also know that when the body is fighting against an infection, it will react by swelling or will become inflamed. This is the body’s natural defense mechanism. So another thought is that as bacteria circulate through the body, the body may recognize them as a threat, thereby causing blood cells to swell in defense against the bacteria. The swelling will cause the arteries to narrow, thus increasing the risk of blood clots.
Studies continue to be examined by the American Heart Association and the American Dental Association. More research needs to be done in order to determine the exact correlation linking heart disease and oral health, but we have enough evidence to support the idea that good oral health care habits are very likely an effective tool in helping to prevent heart disease.
Good oral health care daily habits should include brushing one’s teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and replacing one’s toothbrush every three to four months. Regular checkups with a dentist should also be a part of an effective oral health care plan, as dentists are often able to detect early signs of various health problems based on the health of a person’s mouth.
Sometimes early signs of heart disease are difficult to detect because an individual will not feel his arteries clogging. However there are signs that appear in one’s oral health that are much more obvious and may lead to earlier detection if followed up with a visit to one’s physician.
Check with your physician for more information on the warning signs of heart disease.
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