Be Good to Your Heart: Take Care of Your Mouth

February is Heart Health Month—a time of awareness and prevention when it comes to the number one cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. ( That’s right, heart disease is responsible for approximately 1 million annual deaths in the United States—more than cancer, more than car accidents, more than any other cause (by a pretty wide margin!) You may be wondering what this has to do with your teeth. The short answer? A lot.

You see, the health of your heart is directly related to the health of your mouth—a relationship that’s just beginning to really come into public awareness. We all know that, to maintain a healthy heart, we need to eat the right foods, get consistent exercise, and avoid smoking and alcohol. But one of the most important preventative measures—good oral hygiene—often falls under the radar

The truth is, there is a significant connection between periodontal disease (or gum disease) and the development of heart disease. In fact, according to, it has been found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease as well. The connection is still being explored, but one theory proposes that bacteria from the periodontal disease enters the blood stream through the mouth and becomes attached to fatty deposits in the heart, increasing the occurrence of blood clots and the risk for a cardiac arrest.

Daily brushing and flossing, and visits to your dentist every six months, can help keep periodontal disease at bay. The symptoms of gum disease aren’t always obvious, so it’s critical that your dentist sees your mouth on a regular basis. Early prevention can help make treatment go a lot smoother (and a lot faster) than if periodontal disease is left to worsen over time. Watch for red, swollen, or painful gums, loose teeth, blood when brushing, pain while chewing, receding gum line, or bad breath that won’t go away no matter how much you brush or rinse with mouthwash. These are all symptoms of developing gum disease.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist right away. They will be able to recommend the best line of treatment based on how far the disease has progressed.

To learn more about the connection between oral and overall health, visit Dr. Keith A. Kye at

Dr. Kye serves dental patients in the Huntersville and Charlotte area of North Carolina.

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