How Visiting the Dentist May Save Your Life
February is designated American Heart Month, which makes it a perfect time to discuss how oral health and heart health are connected. This may come as a surprise to many, as heart health and dental health don’t seem to be immediately related. On the contrary, taking care of your dental health could be a major key toward maintaining a healthy heart.
Periodontitis, the inflammation of the gums, has been shown in studies to be an indicator of current or future heart disease. The studies have shown that the inflammation and plaque buildup in gums can indicate the same issues present in the heart. So while periodontitis is bad for your dental health, it also could be indicative of poor heart health. Heart disease is a manageable disease if caught in time, and your dentist can ensure that happens.
One study investigating the connection between oral and heart health found that people with periodontitis are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. The cause is widespread inflammation and bacteria in the system. The most accepted theory to explain how this occurs involves bacteria entering the bloodstream through small, inflamed abrasions in the gums, subsequently traveling through the cardiovascular system. The bacteria present throughout the body will then cause damaging inflammation, the body’s natural response to foreign bodies.
Professional Care Is Necessary
If visiting your dentist on a regular basis wasn’t a priority before, it should be now. Daily brushing and flossing is the best maintenance plan for your mouth, but this alone isn’t enough. Your dentist has the tools and expertise needed for long-term oral health which will lead to better overall health. A dental exam can identify plaque buildup, unusual spots or sores and also reveal information about your overall health.
Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes
Visiting the dentist can help save your life. If periodontal disease is found by your oral professional, they will recommend a thorough exam from your primary care physician. Symptoms that otherwise may have gone undetected will be found early and can begin to be treated. Regular visits to your dentist will also ensure you are receiving regular check-ups for oral cancer screenings. Dental health is often overlooked as less important than other aspects of our overall health. Clearly, that isn’t true. Maintaining your dental health is not that hard when you form the proper habits. With proper daily care and regular visits to the dentist, you can enhance your dental health and protect your overall health at the same time. When you think about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, think about dental providers, not just primary care physicians.