February is National Heart Health month, and it might surprise you to know that your dental health has a direct effect on the condition of your heart. Dentist in Newberg, Oregon Dr. Jennifer McLeod and her team at Newberg Family Dental strive to provide high-quality dental care that helps each patient maintain excellent overall health.
But how do teeth cleanings effect the state of your heart?
Plaque Indicates Trouble Ahead
Plaque isn’t just a yellow stick substance on the surfaces of teeth. In the mouth, the build up of plaque means that there’s a presence of oral bacteria. This bacteria can not only lead to periodontal disease and inflammation of the gum tissue, but it can also travel to different parts of the body, including the heart. Periodontal disease can also lead to an infection, which can spread to different parts of the body and cause further problems for your overall health.
Recent Studies Link Dental and Heart Health
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people are almost twice as likely to have heart disease when they have periodontal disease or more common issues like cavities and missing teeth. While it’s not conclusive that periodontal disease causes heart disease (or vice versa), there are undeniable links between the two conditions.
Researchers have found that the bacteria found in the mouth has been found in artery plaques present in and around the heart. One theory is that this bacteria enters the bloodstream through gum tissue and stick to fatty plaques in the bloodstream, making a bad situation worse.
Another theory involves the body’s natural defenses against bacteria, which includes inflammation. Researchers theorize that as oral bacteria travel through the bloodstream, they cause blood cells to swell up and narrow arteries. This increases the chance of clotting.
Clean Teeth May Help Save Your Life
There are really simple ways to prevent both periodontal disease and heart disease. Risk factors for both include unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and ignoring signs that require treatment. Preventative measures include:
- Brushing teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
- Floss teeth once a day.
- Eat a wide variety of lean meats, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy.
- Avoid foods that are processed or high in sugar and fat.
- Exercise regularly during the week.
- Get your teeth cleaned regularly!
Regular visits to dentist in Newberg Dr. Jennifer McLeod at Newberg Family Dental may help you reduce your risk of heart disease and maintain good overall health. Contact Newberg Family Dental here or call (503) 538-7717 to schedule your appointment!