Gum Health and Your Heart
A study conducted by Columbia University and published in the Journal of the American Heart Association reports that gum health is linked to the progression of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in arteries. Increased atherosclerosis rates are linked to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and death.
The study, which followed 420 older adults, measured the artery thickness of each subject and compared the results to their oral infection exams. The findings showed that those with the healthiest gums and the lowest amount of oral bacteria also had the slowest progression of atherosclerosis.
Moïse Desvarieux, associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Health and lead author of the study, stated: “These results are important because atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases.”
Interestingly, the results did not change significantly when the researches adjusted for factors such as body mass index, cholesterol levels, diabetes, and smoking, reinforcing the theory that oral health greatly influences heart health.
Keep Your Gums Healthy
The best way to prevent gum and tooth disease from negatively affecting your heart health is to take good care of your mouth. Schedule twice-yearly dental cleanings, call your dentist immediately should any oral health issues arise, and follow these dental care steps at home:
- Brush twice a day, preferably right after breakfast and right before bed
- Use a soft bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gums and brush each tooth 15 to 20 times
- Do not cover your toothbrush before it dries, as this encourages bacteria growth
- Be sure to replace your toothbrush after any illness
- Floss daily
- Rinse daily with a dentist recommended mouthwash
- Eat a calcium rich diet and avoid sticky sweets such as pastries, toffees, and other soft candies
- Only chew sugar free gum
Good oral home health care does not take a lot of time, but it does require commitment. By making sure to use good dental practices every single day, not only will you keep your smile bright and your teeth in good condition, you will also protect your heart!
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