Teeth, Heart and Health
Preventive measures, proper oral hygiene and professional dental treatments all work together to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Dentists recommend practicing proper oral hygiene as early as infancy, even before a child’s first teeth erupt. Clean your baby’s gums and mouth after every feeding, and help older kids brush and floss until they can do it properly on their own. Brush the teeth for two minutes at least twice a day and floss at least once daily as soon as teeth are in contact with one another. Teenagers and adults can also gargle with an antibacterial mouthwash.
Take your child to the dentist by the time he or she turns one. First visits are all about getting your child used to sitting in the dentist’s chair. They’re also about educating parents on how to care for kids’ teeth. Early dental visits help prevent tooth decay and dental anxiety.
Healthy Teeth = Healthy Heart
Tooth decay and periodontal gum diseases not only ruin your mouth, but also your heart. Gum inflammation (gingivitis) and its advanced stage, periodontitis, are linked to clogged arteries, coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack. One study also found that oral problems like cavities, gingivitis and missing teeth are as good predictors of heart disease as blood cholesterol levels.
What does gingivitis have to do with the heart anyway? While experts are still unsure, studies suggest that bacteria in the mouth can make their way into the bloodstream and contribute to blockages in the arteries. Another theory suggests that the same bacteria travelling through the body triggers an inflammatory response, causing blood cells to swell, clump together and form clots. Besides heart disease, periodontitis may also be a contributing factor to:
- Low birth weight
- Premature births
That’s why it’s important to get rid of plaque before it turns into hardened calculus called tartar and causes gum disease. Preventive dental care is always better than treatment; you may just live longer if you start taking care of your teeth as early as possible.