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Heart-mouth connection

February 26, 2018

Doctors and dentists agree: Oral health isn’t just important for staving off halitosis. It’s also a good indicator of what’s going on in other areas of the body, like your heart.

“We know that there is a definite correlation between heart disease and gum disease,” says SIU Center for Family Medicine-Lincoln dentist Sharon Molitoris, DMD. According to Molitoris, heart disease and gum disease share many of the same risk factors including smoking, diabetes, age, poor overall health, stress and diet.

While experts can’t yet agree if poor gum health causes heart disease or is merely a reflection of heart disease, she stresses, “‘Being healthy’ means having healthy teeth and gums just as much as it means being healthy everywhere else in the body.”

Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding, swollen and painful gums, although often gum disease may be painless, Molitoris warns. “If gums bleed when you brush or floss, this is an indication that they are sick; truly healthy gums do not bleed,” she explains. Other symptoms of gum disease include a foul smell or taste in the mouth, loose and drifting teeth and tooth loss.

If you regularly experience bleeding gums, you’re not alone. About 3 million people in the US have gum disease, or periodontitis. Lucky for you and millions of others, there are numerous ways to reverse the trend and restore your gum health:

1.        If you’re a smoker, quit.

2.       Brush twice a day for two minutes.

3.       Floss daily.

4.      See your dentist for a complete checkup.

5.       Minimize sugary beverages, like soda, sweet tea and juices.

6.      Eat a healthy, well balanced diet.

Molitoris encourages, “If you haven’t been to the dentist in a few years, it’s never too late to get back on track.”

Need a dentist? Make an appointment with Molitoris at the SIU Center for Family Medicine - Lincoln, 109 Third St. in Lincoln, by calling 217-735-2317.