Oral Health : Healthy Gums, Healthy Heart

IN THE UK it is estimated that half the population has some degree of gum disease and most of us will experience it at least once in our lifetime.

Research suggests there may be an association between periodontal (gum and teeth) disease (PD) and coronary heart disease, another big chronic disease in the UK.

Both diseases share several risk factors such as smoking, age and diabetes and are characterised by inflammation and the build-up of two different types of plaque.

It's important to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle and practice good oral hygiene to minimise your risk of both PD and coronary heart disease.

To care for your heart and your teeth: Keep away from cigarettes - the chemicals in tobacco damage both your gums and your arteries. Eat a heart-healthy diet and include plenty of colourful fruit and vegetables rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and mineral.

Exercise regularly and keep to a healthy weight.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, using a good tooth brush.

Regularly floss your teeth and rinse with an anti-bacterial mouthwash. Have regular check-ups and get your teeth professionally cleaned.

Remember, healthy teeth are key to enjoying food and being able to chew a wide range of heart-healthy foods Spot the signs - gum disease (also known as gingivitis) is an early sign of PD but can be reversed.

You should make an appointment to see your dentist if your gums are inflamed, are painful or bleed when brushing.

Loose teeth and gums that have pulled away from your teeth as well as bad breath could also indicate early signs of PD.

Remember, a heart-healthy lifestyle will do wonders for your teeth, heart and body. It will give you a brighter smile and help you to live a healthier, happier, longer life.

For more information, visit www.heartresearch.org.uk

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