We all know what to do — and what not to do — to prevent heart disease. Don’t overeat salty or fatty foods. Get exercise and rest. Eat your vegetables. Take medications to prevent worsening of an existing condition.
In addition, your dentist will tell you that heart disease can also be managed if you remember one very important part of the daily regimen: brushing your teeth.
Studies show that regular brushing — a vital part of any oral care routine — can help to prevent heart disease. Here’s how it works: the heart requires its own constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. If one of the two large, branching coronary arteries delivering oxygenated blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked, a portion of the heart is starved of oxygen, a condition called ‘cardiac ischemia.’ If cardiac ischemia lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies — otherwise known as a heart attack.
Studies are beginning to show that oral health and gum disease are related to serious conditions like heart disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (also called heart disease). And one study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were good at predicting heart disease.
So, listen to the advice of dentists everywhere — give your heart a break and brush your teeth and floss daily — and avoid from acidic, sugary foods. It’s one of the only ways your mouth can actually talk to your heart.