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In addition to celebrating Valentine’s Day this month, February is also American Heart Month. That’s why we recommend having a heart for your smile! Research shows a strong connection between your oral and overall health. Some call this oral-systemic health. We call it The Mouth-Body Connection®--and it’s a critical link in identifying other health concerns early on.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.[1]

Widely accepted research has shown that people with periodontal (gum) disease are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease; this includes heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and other serious cardiovascular issues. When your gums are inflamed, harmful bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream and invade your heart vessels, causing inflammation of the artery walls and potentially heart-stopping clots. That’s why keeping your gums healthy may also help reduce your risk of heart diseases.

The good news is that heart disease is preventable in most cases with healthy choices. Some things you can do to decrease your risk of heart disease today include:

-          Take care of your oral health - Brush and floss 2x a day, limit your use of alcohol-based mouthwash and be sure to visit your dentist for checkups at least 2x a year.

-          Eat a healthy diet -  Limit saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

-          Take care of yourself – Maintain a healthy weight, control blood sugar and cholesterol, control high blood pressure, manage stress, get enough sleep and get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity weekly.

In cases where brushing isn’t enough, Smile Generation®-trusted dentists work closely with periodontists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. Ask your dentist about The Mouth-Body Connection at your next appointment—and here’s wishing you a Happy Heart Month with healthy smiles and healthy hearts!

[1] Heron, M. Deaths: Leading causes for 2017 pdf icon[PDF – 3 M]National Vital Statistics Reports;68(6). Accessed November 19, 2019.