In honor of American Heart Month this February, we’re taking a look at an unexpected way to curb heart disease – visiting the dentist.
Scheduling a dental appointment isn’t just about taking care of your teeth. Your mouth can reveal a lot about your overall health. Signs and symptoms of dozens of systemic diseases, disorders, syndromes and other conditions can appear in the mouth. Bleeding gums, burning or dry mouth, loose teeth and bad breath (to name a few) may point to health issues in different areas of the body. These issues include diabetes, heart disease, infectious diseases and a variety of others. If these indicators are present, your dentist will refer you to your physician for next steps that encourage proper diagnosis.1
Visiting the dentist regularly for a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and just as importantly, all other soft tissues in your mouth has multiple benefits. It can prevent small problems from becoming major issues and identify systemic diseases early. The earlier you detect and treat these diseases, the easier they are to manage. Early detection can help prevent the disease from causing more serious problems and can lead to better overall health in the long run. A study completed by the American Heart Association found that people who receive regular teeth cleanings have a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke.
It’s also important to know that having a dental plan can help. Most dental plans cover preventive services, such as exams and cleanings, at little or no cost to you. And people with certain medical conditions, like heart disease, may be eligible for enhanced benefits. These benefits may include coverage for additional exams and cleanings, periodontal maintenance and fluoride treatments.
Be a smart mouth: think about your overall health and schedule your next trip to the dentist today.