How the Dentist Helps Your Heart

Tools

Story Updated: Dec 6, 2012

No matter how busy you are, here is another reason you should make time for regular dental visits: They can save your life.

Heart disease is the biggest killer of American women, and women who get adequate dental care reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems by at least one-third, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. The study links artery-clogging plaque, a major cause of heart attack and stroke, to bacteria in the mouth.

The Berkeley study, which involved people over age 43, also found that while women receiving dental care reduced their cardiovascular risk by at least one-third, men did not see any heart health benefit. This may be because dental care has the most effect in the earliest stages of heart disease, says lead author Timothy Brown, Ph.D., a professor of health policy and management at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. Since women tend to develop heart disease about 10 years later than men, the women in the study were less likely to have advanced heart disease.

How can you tell if plaque is taking you down the wrong path? "If your gums bleed when you floss or brush, it's quite possible that bacteria are getting into the bloodstream that could lead to stroke or heart attack later in life," says Kevin Muench, a family dentist in Maplewood, N.J. So get to the dentist soon -- regular dental visits typically involve preventive procedures to keep gums healthy and guard against inflammation, which can create a portal into the bloodstream for bacteria.

And if you're not due back to the dentist in a while, follow the two cardinal rules of long-term health in the meantime to reduce your risk of heart disease and keep your smile healthy:

1. Slow down on sugar.

Sugar, long associated with cavities, is now being blamed for increasing risk of heart disease. Last year, the American Heart Association recommended limiting daily sugar intake to about 6 teaspoons for women and about 9 teaspoons for men.

2. Make flossing a habit.

Regular flossing may reduce risk of heart attack, according to a new study from University of Bristol in England. Flossing daily helps reach those areas of the mouth the toothbrush can't, protecting against inflamed gums, which open the door to dangerous bacteria that may trigger deadly heart disease.

Add a comment

Name:

Comment: 250 Characters Left

WBNG and its affiliated companies are not responsible for the content of comments posted or for anything arising out of use of the above comments or other interaction among the users. We reserve the right to screen, refuse to post, remove or edit user-generated content at any time and for any or no reason in our absolute and sole discretion without prior notice, although we have no duty to do so or to monitor any Public Forum.

Featured Professional

Ophthalmology

Guthrie Specialty Eye Care



Interviews with Dr. Lester McDonald
Interviews with Dr. Chaudhri

Guthrie Specialty Eye Care is proud to offer a wide range of comprehensive eye care services from basic eye health screenings to some of the most sophisticated eye surgical procedures available.

Guthrie Specialty Eye Care offers you six convenient locations, with six board-certified ophthalmologists, nine therapeutic optometrists and more fellowship-trained sub-specialists than any other eye care provider in the area.

Comprehensive services include cataract surgery, cataract surgery with Crystalens HD, corneal implants, diabetic eye care, dry eye care, macular degeneration, retinal detachments and disorders, eye infections, glaucoma, muscle surgery (cross eyes), and pediatric ophthalmology.

Cataract Surgery is one of the most common eye services available. Guthrie now has options that include Crystalens.

To learn more about Crystalens or other Guthrie Specialty Eye Care services, please log on to www.guthrie.org/eyes.

Guthrie Specialty Eye Care – Committed to Quality – Experience You Can Trust