Everyone knows that getting regular exercise and eating lots of fruits and vegetables are great ways to keep your heart in good shape. But did you know that attending your regular six-month dental checkups can also prevent heart disease? This is because the health of your mouth is strongly linked to your heart health. Since February is American Heart Month in Charlottesville, now is the perfect time to talk about this connection. Keep reading to learn how seeing your dentist twice a year could end up saving your life!
Why Are Dental Checkups So Important?
Even if you diligently brush and floss every day at home, there are spots in your mouth that you’re bound to miss when you’re cleaning, where plaque can build up and harden into tartar. That’s where your biannual cleanings come in. Your dental hygienist can use special tools to remove plaque and tartar, leaving your smile healthy and clean.
If you don’t attend these appointments, plaque and tartar accumulate on your teeth and along your gumline. Since these substances are chock full of harmful bacteria, it can result in irritation of your sensitive gum tissue. This can quickly spiral into full-fledged gum disease in Charlottesville.
What Is Gum Disease?
When you neglect your oral hygiene routine or your regular cleanings, bacteria from built-up plaque and tartar can attack your gum tissue and the bone that keeps your teeth anchored in your jaw. At first, it may begin with only minor symptoms, like puffy, red gums and bleeding when brushing and flossing. Left untreated, it can progress to the point where your teeth become loose and even fall out!
How Does Gum Disease Cause Heart Problems?
Gum disease eventually makes your gums recede from your teeth, creating pockets. Bacteria can then enter these spaces and access your bloodstream, where they can reach your heart and cause an inflammatory response that increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Even without traveling through these pockets, bacteria can set off a chain reaction of inflammation from your mouth to the rest of your body, including your heart.
How Else Can You Prevent Gum Disease?
Seeing your dentist twice a year is critical in keeping gum disease at bay, but here are a few other tips to prevent it between appointments:
- Floss every single day
- Brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste
- Quit smoking or chewing tobacco
- Cut down on sugary foods and beverages
While going to the dentist might not be your favorite activity, keeping up with your visits can keep not only your smile, but your heart healthy. It could even save your life!
About the Author
Dr. Hal Lippard has been serving the dental needs of the Charlottesville, VA community for more than 20 years. His practice provides periodontal therapy, or gum disease treatment, using dental deep cleanings to remove instances of infection from your gum tissue. If you think you may have or be at risk for gum disease, don’t hesitate to give Dr. Lippard’s office a call at (434) 293-9311.