According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. for both men and women. With statistics like that, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to start looking for ways to reduce our chances of developing the disease. Taking care of our mouths is an easy place to start.
So how are the two connected? Gum disease, which is a bacterial infection, roughly doubles the risk that a person will suffer from heart disease. Bacteria in the mouth can migrate into the blood stream and form small blood clots that can contribute to the clogging of arteries. Inflammation from gum disease can also lead to the buildup of fatty deposits inside the heart arteries.
The connection can also go the other way, with heart disease treatment contributing to gum disease. Certain heart disease drugs can cause dry mouth, increased plaque or enlarged gum tissue. These conditions can lead to gum infections that makes heart disease and gum disease a two-way street.
Regular brushing and flossing help keep your gums healthy and can help decrease your risk for heart disease. You should also visit your dentist for exams and cleanings. Only dental professionals can remove the tarter and plaque that builds up on your teeth.
Don’t want heart disease to hold you back during your golden years? Then don’t wait to see your dentist! This Valentine’s Day, add dental appointments to your to-do list. It may not be a dozen roses or a box of candy, but preventing heart disease and staying healthy for years to come is the best present you can give your special Valentine.