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American Heart Month: Valentine’s Day

As you take time this Valentine’s Day to appreciate the ones you love, don’t forget to appreciate yourself! February is also American Heart Month. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in South Dakota, this is the perfect time to review the connection between gum disease and heart health.

Gum Disease & Heart Health

Ongoing studies prove there is a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the tissue surrounding our teeth caused by plaque buildup. If left untreated, gum disease can cause bleeding gums, chewing problems, and even tooth loss.

The relationship between gum disease and heart disease isn’t fully understood yet. However, there’s enough information to prove that gum disease increases the risk of heart disease, and it can also make current heart conditions worse. One theory suggests that bacteria in the mouth affect the heart by entering the bloodstream.

People with gum disease are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or another cardiovascular event. While research continues, use your dental care routine to lower your risk of being affected by either gum disease or heart disease. 

Proper Dental Care to Avoid Plaque Buildup

1. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.

2. Floss at least once a day. Flossing removes plaque and leftover food debris from between the teeth and spaces that your brush can’t reach.

3. Visit the dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning. Research shows that many systemic disease present with symptoms in the mouth. Make sure you’re honest with your dentist about symptoms like swollen or bleeding gums. Through normal exams and x-rays, your dentist can check for developments that might be connected to other health issues.

4. Cut out all tobacco use from your routine. The folks at SDQuitLine can help. Not only is it better for your overall health, it will also improve your smile. Smoking is strongly linked to periodontal disease.

What else does your oral health affect?

*Updated February 2022