The next time you brush and floss your teeth, think about this: you’re also helping your heart.
Good oral health can help control gum disease, which research has linked to heart disease, according to Dan Edmundowicz, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and York oral and maxillofacial surgeon James Boyle, DDS.
“Bacteria is always present in your mouth, but the more bacteria in your system, the greater the likelihood of cardiac events,” says Dr. Edmundowicz.
“Poor oral hygiene leads to infection and inflammation. The resulting bacteria can then travel through the bloodstream and contribute to more inflammation and even arterial obstruction,” he adds.
Dr. Boyle, a member of the Pennsylvania Dental Association, explains that while brushing your teeth removes plaque from tooth surfaces, it cannot entirely remove plaque that exists between teeth.
“Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line, where bacteria can thrive. Brush twice a day, floss before bed and have your teeth cleaned twice a year,” he advises.
“Don’t underestimate the impact of oral health on your overall health. If you neglect your teeth, your risk of severe gum disease, heart disease and even diabetes increases. A little prevention goes a long way. All you need is a toothbrush and some floss to prevent more serious health problems down the road,” Dr. Boyle says.