In a previous blog, I mentioned that the heart is essential to life. Having a healthy heart is a big part of having a healthy life. You want to do everything you can to prevent your heart from being damaged, including taking care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Life is not a silo. All of your inner parts are connected to each other in every facet of life, and the best way to maintain a healthy heart is to manage all the parts well.
A healthy smile based on all these essential life parts leads to a healthy heart. New studies reported by Colgate show that if you have gum disease in a moderate or advanced stage, you're at higher risk for heart disease than someone with healthy gums. And second, your oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for a range of diseases and conditions, including those in the heart.
Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria from your mouth to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. According to Mayo Clinic, this can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
How do you recognize symptoms and early warning signs? According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), you may have gum disease, even if it's in its early stages, if:
Your gums are red, swollen, and sore to the touch.
Your gums bleed when you eat, brush or floss.
You see pus or other signs of infection around the gums and teeth.
Your gums look as if they are "pulling away" from the teeth.
You frequently have bad breath or notice a bad taste in your mouth.
Or some of your teeth are loose or feel as if they are moving away from the other teeth.
Being proactive about your oral health can help protect you from potentially developing heart disease and keep your smile healthy, clean, and beautiful throughout your life. Regular healthy habits can lower your risk of both gum disease and heart disease, according to Delta Dental. And, if you already have one or both of these conditions, these strategies can help reduce their impact:
Brush and floss regularly. To remove plaque-forming bacteria, brush for at least two minutes, twice a day, and don’t skip the floss.
Choose a healthy diet, rich in essential nutrients (especially vitamins A and C). Reduce or eliminate sugar and starches.
Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. These habits can destroy your gums and increase your chance of heart disease.
Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. Did you know that about 77 million Americans are without a dental plan? That is about one fourth of the entire population. There are a variety of reasons, but the largest demographic with no dental coverage are senior adults over age 65, according to a new visual report from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.
As recently as late 2021, a survey by Value Penguin showed some alarming statistics about the lack of dental care in America:
Nearly half (48%) of Americans with dental insurance have skipped dental visits or recommended procedures due to cost. Among those who aren’t insured, 65% have skipped the dentist for the same reason.
Baby boomers are least likely to have dental insurance, and most say it’s due to Medicare. 38% of baby boomers don’t have dental insurance, and 42% within that group say it’s because their Medicare plan doesn’t cover dental.
Nearly 30% of those without dental insurance regret not being covered. And 30% of all Americans (both insured and uninsured) regret not taking better care of their teeth.
Those without dental insurance are twice as likely to be unhappy with their teeth as those who are insured. 34% of those without insurance are not satisfied with the condition of their teeth, compared with 17% of those who are insured.
As for consumers who have insurance, their main gripe is that not enough services or procedures are covered (cited by 25%). In total, 48% of insured Americans have at least one complaint about their policy or insurer.
Due to the overwhelming evidence collected by numerous studies over the past 10 years, the fact that so many people go without taking care of their oral health is almost unbelievable. Yet, statistics don't lie. These kinds of numbers are indicative of some systemic issues in the dental care market. Doesn't it make sense to prevent more long term health issues by subscribing to a dental plan that helps keep your smile in good shape, your teeth and gums healthy, and prevent heart disease?
As a licensed health insurance agent who is appointed with some of the best companies in the dental market, I have a variety of affordable options from which to choose. Contact me at your earliest opportunity to have a conversation about a dental plan that makes sense for you and your family. If you are an employer, I have multiple options for your employees. Learn more about some of those here on this website.