Today is World Heart Day with cardiovascular diseases being the #1 cause of death.
Did you know that taking care of your gums may help your heart? Problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body and people with gum disease may be at risk of heart disease. Research suggests that inflammation associated with active gum disease may be predictive of arterial inflammation, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other types of cardiovascular disease. It is known that certain heart valve infections such as endocarditis are associated with poor oral health.
One of the first symptoms of gum disease that you may experience is bleeding gums. Healthy gums don't bleed after brushing your teeth. Mild gum disease (gingivitis) can be reversed by keeping gums strong and healthy with good oral hygiene. This is done in two easy steps, by removing plaque - brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day, and by visiting the dentist for a regular check-up, at least once a year.
Smoking is a risk factor for severe gum disease, heart disease and stroke. Quitting smoking will help your overall health by reducing these risks. 1 to 2 years after quitting Your risk of heart attack drops dramatically. There is lots of help, support, and information available from www.quit.ie
Other unhealthy lifestyle factors such as drinking too much alcohol and not exercising have an impact on your oral and overall health and wellbeing. Look at reducing your alcohol consumption/drinking in moderation and increasing your daily physical activity. Stress is also a common risk factor between gum health and heart health and exercise may help to relieve it. Taking up moderate exercise for just 150 minutes a week will be a great help. Dentists and other health care professionals can support patients in enjoying local green spaces and encouraging them to get involved in walking initiatives such as ‘100 days of walking’, as part of a healthy lifestyle - a form of 'social prescribing'.
Why not make a promise to yourself to visit your dentist for a dental check-up and your G.P. for a heart check-up? Ask them for advice on ways to reduce the risk of oral and heart disease. Always let you your dental team know if you have a heart condition.
Look at making other positive changes to your lifestyle by going for a 30 minutes’ walk every day, eating a healthy and balanced diet - small changes can make a big difference so eat more fruit and vegetables. Remember, improving your oral hygiene will also improve your overall health, do this by brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste (1450ppm F) and cleaning between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes once a day.
A healthy mouth and a healthy body go hand in hand so take good care of your gums and teeth. For more information see www.dentalhealth.ie