The folk wisdom that a beautiful smile means a beautiful heart may be more accurate than you think. Studies are continually making the connection between the types of bacteria in the mouth and Heart health. A healthy smile says alot more than we thought.
The mouth has a layer of bacteria called biofilm. The types of bacteria dictate whether the mouth stays healthy or not. If unhealthy bacteria begins to grow in the biofilm then this can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and Periodontal disease. Unfortunately these bacteria do not stay in the mouth. They get in the bloodstream and go to other parts of the body.
A common strain of unhealthy bacteria, Streptococcus Sanguis, that is significantly higher in people with Periodontal disease (Gum Disease), has a known link to Heart disease and stroke risk. This bacteria causes inflammation in the body and particularly the heart valves.
An article from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine recently stated that the cost for treating heart disease for a patient that has had at least one Periodontal Treatment had 20-40% lower healthcare costs versus patients that did not treat their Periodontal Disease.
An article published in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP), the official publication of the American Academy of Periodontology, suggests that periodontal patients whose bodies show evidence of a reaction to the bacteria associated with periodontitis may have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
“With the number of people with heart disease continuing to increase, it is important to understand that simple activities like brushing and flossing twice a day, and regular visits to your dental professional can help lower your risk of other health conditions.”
Since most people have regular oral examinations, their dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem in its early stages.
Seeing a dentist regularly helps to keep your mouth in top shape and allows your dentist to watch for developments that may point to other health issues. A regular dental exam can also detect poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment.
At home, you can practice good oral hygiene:
- Brush 2x a day for at least two minutes, using fluoridated toothpaste.
- Eat a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary (vitamins A and C, in particular) to prevent gum disease.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can't reach.
- Visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. This is one of the most effective ways to detect the early signs of gum disease.
- Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which are known to contribute to gum disease and oral cancer.