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Smile for your heart health

Did you know that there is a link between your teeth and your heart? Having a healthy, beautiful smile is not only attractive; it is an indicator of your general health.

While tooth decay is primarily a problem of childhood, gum disease is a major problem in adulthood. And, it is those tiny little bacteria that cause the gum disease that also make you more likely to suffer from heart disease, not to mention tooth loss, changes in facial structure and other factors that negatively affect your appearance.

Gum disease or periodontal disease as it is officially known causes inflammation. Mild inflammation is known as gingivitis. The bacteria associated with the inflammation of your gums travels through your bloodstream and can affect other parts of your body. There is significant medical information that links inflammation of the gums with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and, of course, cardiovascular (heart) disease.

So, if you have gum disease are you doomed? Of course not! There are things you can do to find out if you have periodontal disease and treat it if you do.

  • First, twice yearly teeth cleaning are the standard for everyone. However, depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings.
     
  • Next, brushing your teeth and flossing them after every meal or at least twice per day is essential. In addition to flossing, getting an American Dental Association approved water jet device can clean between teeth even better. If your teeth are sensitive, you can get special toothpastes that are designed to treat that problem.
     
  • Finally, consult a periodontal specialist if you are told you have gum disease by your dentist. This subspecialty of dentistry deals only with the gums and offers a wide range of treatments to deal with your gum disease and improve the look of your smile. Both surgical and non-surgical options are available and are often covered by insurance.

You can get more information about periodontal disease from your dentist, the American Academy of Periodontology, or the American Dental Association.

So, next time you smile, remember, a health smile means a healthy heart.

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