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Did you know that the health of your teeth can affect the health of your heart? Poor oral health, specifically gum disease, may impact heart health. More and more research has uncovered a link between the two, yet the general public is largely unaware of this connection.
February is American Heart Month, and the staff at North Palm Beach Dentistry want to raise awareness of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for Americans, especially women.
Here's some startling facts about women and heart disease:
More than 42 million women are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease.
More than 200,000 women die each year from heart attacks- five times as many women as breast cancer.
Exactly how does the health of your teeth affect the health of your heart?
Oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks.Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque buildup, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries. Researchers have also found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your periodontist and cardiologist will be able to determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures.
What can you do to help prevent heart disease?
Don't neglect to talk to your dentist about your medical issues. Establish open lines of communication with both your dentist and physician.
Floss everyday, and brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with an antibacterial toothpaste such as Colgate Total, that fights plaque and gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.
Visit your dentist every six months (preferably North Palm Beach Dentistry!! :)
Make a list of heart healthy foods to buy at your next trip to the grocery store
If you are a woman and would like some tools to help reduce your risk of heart disease, visit www.womenheart.org .