Good dental hygiene does more than improve your smile. It helps protect your heart health and can lower your risk of heart disease.
Numerous studies link healthy teeth and gums with a healthy heart, according to the American Heart Association. Bacteria in your mouth can infect your gums and the tissues surrounding your teeth if not removed regularly. Inflamed gums and tooth decay are often the result.
Research shows gum infections, inflammation and tooth decay can increase your risk of heart failure, stroke or heart attack. Gum disease can raise your blood pressure and interfere with your blood pressure medication. It can also lead to heart valve problems. Good oral hygiene reduces those risks and gives you fresher breath and cleaner teeth at the same time.
Here are five tips from the National Institutes of Health to help you maintain a healthy mouth and protect yourself from cardiovascular disease.
Tip 1: Practice Daily Maintenance
Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to floss at least once a day. Daily cleaning removes plaque and bacteria before they accumulate and cause health concerns. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay. Regular brushing and flossing are the best ways to fight tooth decay and gum disease for better oral health overall.
Tip 2: Replace Your Toothbrush
A worn-out toothbrush doesn’t clean your teeth effectively. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or even sooner, if the bristles become frayed. If you use an electric toothbrush, follow the same schedule for the best results.
Tip 3: Avoid Tobacco Products
Smoking and using other tobacco products such as snus and chewing tobacco damages your oral health, increasing your risk of cavities and tooth decay. Smokers experience higher rates of gum disease than nonsmokers.
Tip 4: Choose Healthy Foods and Beverages
A healthy, well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins reduces your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Limit your sugary beverages and don’t overdo it on desserts and other sweet treats to keep your mouth healthy and your smile bright.
Tip 5: Go to the Dentist
Schedule appointments with your dentist about every six months for optimal oral health. Regular checkups can help spot health issues early on when they’re most likely to be treated successfully. You may need more frequent visits if you have gum disease or other health issues in your mouth.
American Heart Association
- National Institutes of Health