Your dental health plays a role in your heart health

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans. That’s why the entire month of February is devoted to raising awareness for cardiovascular health. Preventing heart disease can start with caring for your mouth.

Most Americans don’t realize oral health may play a part in heart health. Research shows that people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular issue. The Dental Medical Convergence began with the intent of educating people on the role oral health plays in the rest of the body’s health, including cardiovascular health.

When you don’t properly clean your teeth and gums, bacteria from the plaque in your mouth builds up, causing inflammation to your gums. This is an early stage of gingivitis. As this progresses, it becomes periodontitis, or gum disease, which causes inflammation. Long-term inflammation is a key contributor to other issues, including heart disease.

This month, the spotlight is on heart disease because of its prevalence in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart conditions are the leading cause of death for men and women in America.

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared February 1967 the first American Heart Month to encourage Americans to pay more attention to their heart health. Throughout the month, the American Heart Association and other organizations educate people with the latest research and information on heart health.

Doctors say heart disease is preventable if people care for their oral health, maintain a healthy weight, do not smoke, eat a healthy diet, treat high blood pressure, and stay physically active.

Properly cleaning your teeth every day is the best way to prevent gum disease in the first place. If your dentist diagnoses you with gum disease, tell your primary care physician so they can check for any signs of heart disease.

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