February is American Heart Month! Did you know that there is a connection between oral health and heart health?
Oral health is about more than just keeping your teeth and gums clean. Because the mouth is a primary entry to the body, researchers believe that ineffective oral health habits can have significant, negative consequences on the entire body, especially the heart. Signs of poor oral health include bad breath, bleeding gums and aching teeth.
If your dental hygiene is less than stellar, bacteria from the mouth can spread via the bloodstream and cause infection and inflammation. The bacteria can attach to the walls of blood vessels and arteries, resulting in plaque build-up and hardening (also called atherosclerosis). This hardening and resulting narrowing of the arteries and blood vessels can lead to blood flow problems, hypertension and blockages.
For patients with existing heart conditions, your cardiologist and dentist may recommend a course of prophylactic antibiotics before certain dental procedures. Be sure to consult with them before any major dental work.
So, for your heart and for your overall health, make your oral health a priority. Brush and floss twice a day and see your dentist regularly for check-ups.