Healthy Mouth. Healthy Heart.

February may be the month best known for Valentine’s Day and love, but it’s also American Heart Month. So, what does heart health have to do with your teeth? Plenty! 

A person’s mouth is essentially a petri dish for bacteria to grow. Those bacteria are constantly attacking your teeth and gums, which can result in gingivitis and gum disease.

Early signs of poor oral health can be gum redness and inflammation, even bleeding when brushing or flossing.  

All those bacteria can also travel to other destinations in your body such as your heart. Medical research has roundly concluded that poor oral hygiene can easily lead to serious heart problems. 

People who have gum disease have an increased chance of having heart disease. Meantime, a prominent study published in 2020 showed that gum disease worsened high blood pressure and hypertension. 

“It is important to take care of your teeth and gums to prevent gum disease and cavities. On top of that, a healthier mouth can lead to a healthier heart and longer life” said Dr. Tony Thomas, lead dentist at  Advanced Smile Care in North Central San Antonio. 

Smoking can not only harm the heart and lungs, it can have a profound impact on your oral health. The tar and nicotine in tobacco can stain your teeth yellow and almost brown them over time. People who smoke tend to produce more bacterial plaque which can also lead to gum disease. Smoking leads less oxygen in the bloodstream. So, there is less oxygen going to the gums to help them heal from the effects of smoking. 

Vaping has become very common in our society. But, vaping or inhaling the vapor of electronic cigarettes, can also create dangers to your heart and lungs and impact your oral health. The nicotine you inhale can impact blood flow to your gums and thus increasing your risk of periodontal disease. 

One medical journal study showed that 43% of people who vaped had gum disease and oral infections. That number jumped to 73% among tobacco smokers. BUT that number was just 28 % among nonsmokers. 

8 steps to protect your teeth and your heart

It is critical to see your dentist at least twice a year for a routine cleaning and a check-up.

It’s also important to “know your mouth”.

“Being aware of any changes to your teeth and gums can be valuable information. If you notice anything different or unusual be sure to share that information with your dentist,” said Dr. Thomas. 

Be sure to brush your teeth at least two times per day. Proper brushing removes food and bacteria that can be trapped between your teeth and gums. 

Be sure to floss your teeth at least twice a day. Flossing helps to remove food debris and bacteria that your toothbrush missed or just could not reach. 

Swishing with a good mouthwash can also help reduce plaque and can also help remove plaque and food particles that brushing and flossing may have missed. 

Understand your risk. Your diet, age, and your genetics can all impact your risk of both heart problems and periodontal disease. 

Diet is an important key. It’s hard to resist Valentine’s chocolates and treats but limiting the amount of sugar you eat can help you sidestep both oral and heart problems down the road. Try to use a little less sugar and sweetener in your daily routine. You can always turn to low-fat snacks, and low-sugar treats. 

Stop Smoking. Remember the chemicals connected to both tobacco and vaping electronic cigarettes can have a profound impact on both your heart and oral health. Quitting can be difficult but you don’t have to do it alone. Set a date to kick the habit and let those close to you know so they can support you. Keep your hands busy and be with others in a group setting to help you overcome the urge to light up. 

Advanced Smile Care understands the connection between oral and heart health and wants to help you have many years of happy healthy smiles for years to come.