The Link Between Oral Care and Heart Health for SeniorsJan 19 2018

Keeping your mouth healthy as you age is not as easy as it may seem.  Common issues that make it challenging are dry mouth, wear and tear of teeth from many years of chewing, root decay, and gum disease.  As we all know, keeping your mouth healthy can make a huge difference in our appearance, confidence, and overall health and well-being.  What you may not realize, though, it that it also directly impacts your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Consider the hundreds of bacterial species naturally present in your mouth that are kept at bay by your immune system and good oral health.  But if anything happens to shift that delicate balance, you could end up with an oral infection that spreads to other parts of your body via the bloodstream.  This could result in an infection of the inner lining of the heart, called infective endocarditis, among other things.  In addition, inflammation caused by oral bacteria and atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) may lead to stroke.

Of course, you can go a long way towards preventing these things from happening to you, starting with how you clean your teeth at home.  Using a soft bristled brush to clean the surfaces of your teeth twice a day is an essential first step.  Flossing may be even more important, and must be done once a day.  These two measures will help prevent the build-up of plaque.

If you have dentures, be sure to clean them daily in a solution designed for this purpose.  You also want to make sure that you remove them for 4 hours per day to keep your gums healthy.

Regular visits to the dentist will help you catch early sings of tooth decay and gum disease.  The cleaning you receive on these visits are supportive of your efforts to keep your teeth clean at home and will reveal areas you may not be getting well enough.

And of course not enough can be said about maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.  If you think that a substance you are putting into your body is not good for your teeth, you are probably right.  In addition to sodas, alcohol, and other sugary foods, smoking can also damage your teeth, discoloring them at the least, and depriving your gums of oxygen and other nutrients even further.  Quitting is best earlier rather than later.

So remember, that while you may have enjoyed excellent oral health in your younger years, you must pay extra attention to how you take care of your mouth as you enter your golden years.  You will thank yourself for it for many years to come!

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