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Dr. Matthews: Brush for your heart

The connection between your teeth and ticker


Many know there is a direct connection between what we put into our mouths and our heart health. But did you know that the health of your mouth itself is directly connected to heart health?

Researchers have found that people with gum disease are roughly twice as likely to have coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United States.

One theory as to why is that bacteria from diseased gums enter the bloodstream and once in the blood, the bacteria may attach to fatty plaques in the heart’s blood vessels. In turn, this may contribute to clot formation, potentially leading to a heart attack. Another theory points to the inflammation associated with gum disease as a possible culprit.

So, what is gum disease? Gum disease, which affects the tissues that surround and support teeth, is an infection caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque that forms on the teeth, mainly along the gum line. In its early stages, called gingivitis, gum disease can be treated and often reversed.

In observance of American Heart Month, here are some easy ways to help keep your mouth and heart healthy at the same time:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, but make sure you brush gently beneath the gum line around each tooth.
  • Floss at least once a day — twice is better!
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings, even now. Dental offices are taking extreme care to ensure proper precautions amid COVID-19.
  • Eat a healthy diet and don’t use tobacco. If you smoke — quit. Your dentist may be able to help you stop.

For more tips on keeping your smile healthy, visit www.deltadentalazblog.com.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Alvin Matthews is a Scottsdale resident. He has practiced dentistry in Phoenix for more than 20 years and serves on the Delta Dental of Arizona Board of Directors.