Whether you realize it or not, bacteria live in your mouth as oral hitchhikers. They are fruitful and multiply, but that is not a good thing.
What you were taught as a child on Saturday mornings holds true for you as an adult. These bacteria can not only adversely impact your teeth and gums, but your blood vessels and heart as well.
More and more dentists are beginning to advise their older patients that proper dental care is a significant way to help prevent secondary cardiovascular issues.
“Getting adults to practice good oral health techniques is often harder than it is for kids,” says Dr. Dr. Howard Cunningham, DDS, of Oakland Park Dental.
“Although we were all taught to brush and floss as children to prevent decay,” Dr. Cunningham says, “as adults, gum disease is just as important an issue. It’s estimated that three-quarters of adults have some form of gum disease.”
Doctor Cunningham noted that the “idea that problems inside your mouth can cause disease elsewhere inside your body may surprise you, but when you have periodontitis and chew food or brush your teeth, bacteria is released into your bloodstream.”
The plaque that is released from your teeth can then invade and obstruct arteries. It can be a contributing cause of a potential heart attack.
Dr. David Warner, DDS, at Island City Smiles General & Cosmetic Dentistry in Wilton Manors, says that periodontal diseases in your mouth pose other potential problems for your body as well.
“Research suggests there may be a link between periodontal disease and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, and increased risk during pregnancy,” Dr. Warner noted.
Dr. Warner adds that it is possible for inflammation inside the mouth to provoke a chain reaction of inflammation throughout the rest of your body, swelling arteries on one hand and conceivably causing strokes on the other.
“Periodontal disease may be passed from parents to children and between couples,” Dr. Warner said.
“Good oral hygiene at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring,” Dr. Cunningham added.
Brushing and flossing every day, he says, and seeing your dentist at least twice a year for regular cleanings and exams will pay off in longer life for your teeth and gums and might just benefit your heart, too.
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month.