February is American Health Month, which strives to raise awareness about heart health in an effort to prevent heart disease.

Did you know? Heart disease is almost twice as likely to occur in people who have gum disease.

The human body is a complex network of interconnected systems and organs. Issues that impact one system can also affect the health and function of another. And recent studies have uncovered evidence suggesting a link exists between gum disease and heart disease.

Consider the following:

  • Nearly half of all Americans have undiagnosed gum disease.
  • In the United States, heart disease remains the leading cause of death.
  • An essential component of maintaining a healthy heart may lie in maintaining healthy gums, as well.

Additional factors and lifestyle choices shed light on the link between oral hygiene and heart disease, including:

  • Diet and exercise. Maintaining an active lifestyle with activities you enjoy has been shown to stave off the dangers of heart disease. Take walks, ride bikes, play sports, or do yoga. Avoid foods high in starches and sugars, including carbonated soft drinks, which can damage your teeth, as well.
  • Whether smoking or vaping, nicotine has a detrimental effect on the cardiovascular system. It can also damage teeth, gums, and lungs. Recent studies have connected vaping to a rapid loss in healthy cells that line the top layer of your mouth. These cells play an essential role in keeping your mouth healthy.
  • Regular brushing. The most basic tenet of oral hygiene is also the most important. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day significantly reduces your risk of gum disease.

While gum disease may be a contributing factor of heart disease, it is far from the only cause. That’s why regular visits to your primary care physician remain an important means of measuring your overall health.

Similarly, preventing gum disease alone will not completely remove the risk of developing heart disease. However, taking a proactive and holistic approach to keeping your body healthy, beginning with your oral health, is paramount.

Maintain a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and take optimal care of your teeth. By doing so, you will greatly minimize your risk of developing heart and gum disease.