Like many Americans, you most likely are making one or two resolutions for New Year’s. Many Americans make weight-related goals to improve their appearance, but the obvious by-product is of course improved overall health.

While everyone’s health is their own business, Americans may want to take heed since The American Heart Association says that one in three deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart-related diseases (stroke, cardiovascular disease, etc.). And not only are these kinds of deaths the top killer in America, but across the globe as well.

Losing weight is a good way to reduce heart disease, since those that carry extra weight around their middle can be at risk. Managing stress, quitting smoking, and other good habits can also lower your risk factors. But did you really give a lot of thought about how your oral health can affect your overall health?

You don’t have to look far to find that numerous studies link gum disease with chronic illness. In fact, a post published on December 13th talks about how gum disease is actually linked to gum disease:

Is gum disease a key risk factor for heart disease?

Research has demonstrated a connection between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease (CHD), but the nature of the relationship remains to be determined. To help under this association, researchers have developed a model to illustrate the possible links between periodontal disease and the pathogenesis, hallmarks, and biomarkers of CHD.

While a correlation between periodontal disease and coronary heart disease is well-documented, and there is evidence that periodontal disease is associated with a higher risk of CHD, it remains unclear whether this correlation is due to a causal relationship or a shared underlying disorder, such as inflammation. The researchers sought to deepen understanding about this connection and determine the likely method of action for a possible causal relationship between them. This is important since 30% of the U.S. population has moderate periodontitis, the authors wrote. Read full article here . . .

The following video also goes into more detail about how gum disease can affect the heart:

Although the previously mentioned study says that researchers are still unsure about the relationship between the two diseases, the video points out a possible causal relationship. Since gum disease can cause deep pockets in gingival tissue, bacteria can easily get into those pockets and into the bloodstream. As the bacteria passes through the bloodstream, it can actually make little cuts in the arterial walls. When these walls are nicked, they heal into scars that can gather excess cholesterol. And as you can imagine, excess cholesterol means that restricted blood flow.

So what can be done? A visit with a dentist is an obvious but very good place to start. You may have heard of pocket irrigation and scaling and root planing (SRP), but you may have not heard of Arestin. Arestin is an antibiotic has been in lots of studies and has been shown to help those heal from SRP. What’s great is that the antibiotic is placed in powder form in gum pockets and will continue to work even after you are done with the procedure by killing bacteria.

While dental treatments are a good way to protect both your gums and heart, taking a look at your diet is also a good idea. Drbicuspid.com released a sampling of studies that were promising:

Can Diet Really Reduce Gum Disease?

. . . for four weeks, their diet consisted of primal foods endemic to their area in Switzerland about 5,700 years ago. No processed foods were available for them to eat. These participants had to gather and forage for the majority of their food. In addition, these individuals were not able to brush or floss their teeth during the entire four weeks. Signs of gum infection were measured, and cultures of bacteria in their dental plaque were taken before and after the study.
At the end of the four-week study, there was a significant decrease in signs of gum disease even though all 10 participants could not brush or floss their teeth for the duration of the study. Although amounts of dental plaque increased, disease-producing bacteria did not increase in the plaque . . .
The participants in [another] experimental group had to change their diet. Their new diet consisted of foods low in carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and abundant in vitamins C and D, antioxidants, and fiber. The control group participants did not change their eating habits. As far as oral hygiene was concerned, researchers told all 15 participants not to clean between their teeth with dental floss or interdental brushes. However, they did not have to change the way they brushed their teeth.
The four-week study began after each group had a few weeks to acclimate to these changes. Researchers recorded the signs of gum disease in all participants at the start and end of the study.
At the conclusion of the trial, the researchers found that all disease parameters decreased significantly in the experimental group by about 50% from the starting point. In contrast, all inflammatory markers increased from the starting point in the control group. Read more about the studies here . . .

Since a good diet is chock-full of anti-inflammatory, nutritious foods, this kind of diet is really a two-for-one deal. You’ll not only improve your gum disease, but you will probably lower your heart disease risk factors. A good diet can help you lose weight, improve your blood pressure, and lower your cholesterol levels.

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