Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. It only makes sense, then, that an entire month is dedicated to promoting heart health awareness! February is American Heart Month, so you may hear a lot of information about things you can do to protect this precious organ. For example, media campaigns might focus on promoting good dietary choices and regular exercise, both of which are essential. But there is another element that factors into heart health — your oral health. Let’s discuss how gum disease in Midtown East is related to heart disease, and how you can protect both your smile and your heart.
The Gum Disease – Heart Disease Correlation
Several research studies have established a strong correlation between gum disease and heart disease. For example, one study looked at individuals who had both conditions. They found that for people who received proper care for their gum disease, their cardiovascular care costs were 10 – 40 percent lower than the costs for those who did not get their gum disease treated.
Separate research found that gum disease can increase a person’s risk of heart disease by as much as 20 percent. It has also been noted that people with gum disease are two to three times more likely to experience a heart attack, stroke, other serious cardiovascular event.
What is the reason for the connection between gum disease and heart disease? A common theory centers around inflammation. Inflammation is a natural immune response in the body. On a short-term basis, it promotes healing. On a long-term basis, however, it can be a major problem because it contributes to atherosclerosis (deposits of plaque inside the arteries). Gum disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation.
How can you protect yourself from gum disease and thereby decrease your risk of heart disease? Here are some helpful tips:
- Visit your dentist for biannual preventive checkups and cleanings. If you notice any signs of gum disease, such as red or bleeding gums in Midtown East, it is especially important that you visit your dentist.
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, and floss once a day. An antibacterial mouth rinse may also be helpful.
- Eat a balanced diet. Foods like leafy greens, nuts, and garlic are all good for both your heart and your gums.
- Remember that certain medications, such as oral contraceptives and some antidepressants, can aggravate gum disease. You may want to talk to your doctor about your prescriptions.
This February, as you are contemplating your heart health, don’t forget to take a close look at your oral health as well. The two are connected!
About Drs. Boyd
We are a family-owned, multi-generational dental practice. Our five talented doctors offer a broad range of services, including periodontal therapy and preventive care. If you would like to learn how we can serve as your dentist in Midtown East and help you maintain healthy gums, contact us at 212-755-9055.