How is your family’s oral health? Are everybody’s “teefies” and gums okay? These are important questions because, believe it or not, what’s going on in your mouths can have a lot to do with what’s going on with your overall well being.
Since February is Heart Month, here’s a helpful reminder from the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA). Eighty per cent of cases of premature cardiovascular disease and stroke can be prevented through healthy living, eating, and daily habits, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. Those habits include good oral hygiene.
While a lot of us think the worst thing that can happen due to poor dental hygiene is tooth loss, that’s not all. Research suggests poor oral health may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. That’s right. Bleeding gums are not good, for a whole lot of reasons. As CDHA president Gerry Cool explains, “There are millions of bacteria in the mouth. Ignoring oral health routines can lead to inflammation, causing these bacteria to grow and spread at alarming rates, even into the bloodstream, which may contribute to hardening of the arteries.”
Your dental hygienist will work with you during regular appointments to develop a good oral health-care plan. He or she will also screen for hypertension and other known risk factors for cardiovascular disease (such as smoking), and encourage people at higher risk to seek appropriate medical attention.
In between dental visits, there are things you can do to control the growth of bacteria in your mouth and to improve your oral and overall health.
Follow these five simple steps:
Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
Clean between your teeth and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash daily.
Eat healthy foods and avoid sugary treats.
Eliminate tobacco use.
Visit your dental hygienist regularly.
For more information on oral health, see www.dentalhygienecanada.ca.