When’s the last time you visited the dentist? I’ll admit until recently it had been entirely too long for me…and my teeth and gums… too.
With us still stuck in the pandemic the notion of spending an hour in a cramped room, unmasked, with your mouth wide open might seem unwise. But in reality, the science says it could actually be safe to visit the dentist right now.
I’ll explain why in just a moment. First, I want to share some new research that EVERYONE postponing those appointments needs to see.
Because it reveals how one crucial component of your oral hygiene… the health of your gums… is absolutely critical to your overall health and even your survival.
The good news is it’s something you have control over. But it might involve a trip to the dentist.
Gum inflammation is linked to heart health
You and I both know what healthy gums look like. They’re pink, smooth, firm, and hug each tooth tightly. And you likely know how unhealthy gums appear also (maybe even a little too well).
Unhealthy gums are swollen, red, and quick to bleed when brushing and flossing. They might even look like they’re pulling away from the teeth a bit.
Unhealthy bleeding gums aren’t just bad for your oral hygiene, either. The new study confirms a link we’ve seen before. Folks with periodontitis, or gum disease, have a much higher risk of serious cardiovascular problems including heart attack and stroke.
In this case, the researchers found that gum inflammation doesn’t play by Vegas rules. It doesn’t always stay in the gums. Instead it can activate inflammation elsewhere in the body. And that includes the one place you REALLY don’t want to find it which is inside your blood vessels.
Other research has revealed the same bacteria causing rot inside your mouth can sneak into your bloodstream through those bleeding and receding gums. And that, of course, is like taking the onramp onto a superhighway. Because once inside they can travel throughout your body committing all sorts of crimes against your health along the way.
Gum disease germs have been linked to heart attack and stroke, like we see in the new study. Plus, research has found they can be associated with dementia and cancers (especially colorectal cancer), as well.
Blood in the bathroom sink is a red flag
If you’ve let your dental health slip over the pandemic (or for a bit longer) don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re in good company. Countless other folks have too. After all, we’ve been a bit distracted.
But if you’ve spotted some blood in the bathroom sink, it’s time to take charge of those bleeding gums. You can begin to turn things around by brushing up on your oral hygiene… literally.
Start by going back to the basics. You should brush after meals and floss or use a Waterpik daily.
Next, if you’ve been putting off a trip to the dentist, it might be time to head back in for your overdue cleaning and check-up. Don’t worry, it’s safer than you might think.
Dentists were already equipped to handle some pretty nasty germs long before the pandemic showed up. They’ve always been at a higher risk of exposure to viruses and other nasties so that’s been the nature of their business all along,
Since the pandemic began, many have added advanced air filtration and are taking other safety measures. And experts say their precautions are paying off. They’ve led to a very low infection rate among dental workers – even as low as one percent in some surveys.
There have been zero infection “clusters” traced back to dental offices. And even more reassuring is the fact that as essential workers, many have now been vaccinated (or soon will be) as well.
If you’re overdue for your own cleaning, call your dentist and find out what steps he’s taking to prevent the spread of the virus. If you like what you hear, and it’s safe to do so, go in for your check-up and cleaning.
And when you do you won’t just leave his office with a pearly white smile and pink and happy gums. You’ll also be sporting a lower heart risk too.
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