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Maintaining A Healthy Heart Often Begins With Oral Care

February 28, 2011

February is both National Heart Month and National Dental Month and these two health practices have a lot in common. While many people are familiar with traditional heart-saving practices such as eating healthy and exercising, lesser known are the benefits that superior oral care provides to one’s cardiovascular health. ChicagoHealers.com Practitioner Dr. Kevin Boehm, DDS explains how gum disease affects heart health and what can be done to stay healthy:

  • If heart disease runs in the family, a diagnosis of gum disease increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, but an improved oral care regimen and healthy diet can lower the risk.
  • A consistent brushing and flossing routine will significantly lower the number of anaerobic bacteria present in the mouth. Brushing 2-3 times daily with an electronic toothbrush and thoroughly flossing once a day are practices recommended by Dr. Boehm.
  • A diet high in organic foods, fruits, vegetables, small amounts of lean protein and low in processed foods provides the body with antioxidants to fight off both gum and heart disease.
  • When gum disease bacterium are released into the bloodstream and reach the heart, heart disease can result. There is an abundance of gum-disease causing bacteria in an unhealthy mouth. Disease-fighting white blood cells increase openings in cell walls when released to fight the bacterium. These openings make it possible for toxic bacteria to be released into the bloodstream.
  • In almost all instances an electric toothbrush is a worthwhile purchase as they are proven to be more effective than a manual brush. Also, when used correctly, waterpiks can be a huge asset in reducing plaque bacteria under the gumline. Oxygen-hating bacteria tend to be those that cause the most damage to the cardiovascular system and congregate mostly under the gumline.
  • Use non-alcohol/chemical free and fluoride-free mouthwashes and toothpastes. Xylitol containing pastes, mints and chewing gums and MI paste, which contains beneficial calcium and phosphorous, help reduce the risk of decay more safely than fluoride.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. These are loaded with vitamins, minerals, bioflavonoids and antioxidants. Vegetables and protein from raw nuts/lean meats/fish/poultry are the best ticket to increasing consumption of vital nutrients. When choosing fish, smaller fish contain less mercury than large fish like swordfish. Avoid processed foods of all kinds due to the chemicals, high fructose corn syrup and other additives they often contain.

It is never too late to change dental habits and such changes do a great deal to limit the risk of disease and repair past damage.