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February is Heart Health Month. Heart disease kills more than 600,000 Americans each year, and is the number one killer amongst both men and women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease sufferers are three times more at risk for heart conditions than individuals without oral health problems. That’s because studies link artery-clogging plaque, a major cause of heart attack and stroke, to bacteria in the mouth.

It is important to ensure that oral bacteria – present in every mouth – does not get into your bloodstream through bleeding gums, abscesses or other mouth ailments. So, how do you protect yourself?

Follow these tips:

1. Visit your dentist regularly Your twice-a-year dental visits are essential to keep your heart healthy. Your dentist will perform preventative procedures to keep your gums healthy and guard against inflammation, which if left untreated can open a “portal” for oral bacteria to travel into your bloodstream.

2. Make flossing a habit. Flossing daily helps reach those areas of the mouth the toothbrush can’t, protecting against inflamed gums.

3. Slow down on sugar. Sugar is your mouth’s enemy. Bacteria within your mouth feed on sugar, and ultimately produce an acid that removes the mineral from your teeth, resulting in cavities and inflammation. Last year, the American Heart Association recommended limiting daily sugar intake to about 6 teaspoons for women and about 9 teaspoons for men.

Are you up-to-date on your dentist visits? If not, call the office today to schedule an appointment.

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