Scale Down Your Risk of a Heart Attack with a Trip to the Dentist

Scale Down Your Risk of a Heart Attack with a Trip to the Dentist

Biannual visits to the dentist are critical to your overall health, especially for your heart. A study done in Taiwan and presented to the American Heart Association in 2011 indicates that regular professional cleanings reduce your risk of a heart attack by 24%. Each time you visit the dentist, your appointment usually includes a thorough cleaning, flossing, fluoride treatment, and perhaps a set of X-rays. A process called “scaling,” the removal of plaque and calcium buildup (called tartar) from your teeth using a scraping method, is something that is usually done by a hygienist near the beginning of your cleaning. Scaling is a key treatment in lowering risks relating to heart disease and strokes because it removes nutrients bacteria use to grow on your teeth. These harmful bacteria use plaque and tartar as food to create a breeding ground on your teeth. What’s even more scary is that these bacteria are the same ones that contribute to the inflammation in your gums that causes periodontal disease. (Read this to learn more about how periodontal disease is bad for your heart, too).

So how does removing plaque and tartar lower the risk of heart attack so significantly? By decreasing the amount of “food” for bacteria on your teeth, you are lowering your risk of inflammation. Your heart health is determined largely by your overall health, so keeping your mouth in good shape is a great step towards staying healthy.

Some find the scraping motion used in scaling uncomfortable, but it is certainly necessary. Discomfort caused by this process is something you can improve yourself–by brushing and flossing regularly, gum health is improved, which usually makes scaling feel a little bit better. If you’re still experiencing sensitivity, try talking about it with your hygienist or your dentist on your next visit.

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