With Valentine's Day falling mid-month, February is a great time to focus on matter of the heart. While this usually means spending time with your nearest and dearest, it's also an ideal opportunity to think about the health of your heart and the different lifestyles factors that can affect it. Did you know that your oral health and heart health are linked?
Studies are increasingly finding connections between serious gum disease (periodontal disease) and heart disease. Research is ongoing and scientists have suggested a few different theories; one being that the bacteria responsible for gum disease could be passing into the bloodstream and reacting with already-damaged areas in the heart. Another theory is that the oral bacteria could be stimulating the immune system and producing an inflammatory response, which worsens inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as in the heart.
“It’s clear that taking good care of your oral health can have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing, including your heart health,” says Henry Clover, Chief Dental Officer at Simplyhealth, the experts behind Denplan payment plans. “It’s not as simplistic as saying that brushing your teeth will completely prevent cardiovascular disease but, while research continues to find the links between oral health and heart disease, it’s important to be mindful of your oral health and how it plays a role in your general health.
“If you are at risk of heart disease or have any other wider health issues, it's important to have a thorough oral health routine and visit the dentist and hygienist regularly. Always let your dentist know about your health history and current conditions and any medications you may be taking. Additionally, if you already have heart disease, it’s especially important that you take extra care with your oral hygiene and speak to your dental team about the most effective ways for you to take care of your teeth and gums, as well as regular dental visits.”
Henry’s advice to lower your risk of heart disease by taking good care your mouth and body:
• Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
• Clean between your teeth every day – this can be with floss, interdental brushes or water/air flossers
• Limit sugary snacks and drinks
• Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly for check-ups and cleaning
• Eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and avoid foods with high levels of saturated fats and salt
• Stay active, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight
• Maintain a healthy blood pressure
• Reduce stress levels
• Give up smoking
• Keep an eye on your alcohol consumption
For more information on how to keep your heart healthy, visit the British Heart Foundation
*YouGov survey conducted online on behalf of Simplyhealth Professionals. Total sample size was 5,068 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken from 24th January to 2nd February 2017. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
7 reasons why going ‘dry’ could help your oral health
Dry January is upon us and if you’re thinking about, or even in the process of, cutting out the alcohol, you’ll already be aware of the great benefits it can have on your health, wellbeing and your pocket!
But did you know there are also some great reasons to bin the booze for your oral health too?
1. Acid erosion of your tooth enamel
Many alcoholic drinks are acidic and sugary, which are two things that can have a significant impact on tooth enamel. The enamel, which is the protective outer white layer on our teeth, is softer after being exposed to acid and can wear away over time. Swapping mixers (which can be high in sugar and are acidic) for diet alternatives or soda water, and opting for a straw to reduce exposure to the acids, are easy ways to help look after your teeth and gums.
2. Dehydration can cause tooth decay
We know that having alcohol dehydrates the body, which means that there is reduced saliva flow in our mouths. Saliva is important because it protects our teeth from decay by neutralising the acids; so if your mouth is dry, you are at a higher risk of tooth decay. If you know you’re off out to a party or having a few drinks with friends and family, it’s a good idea to alternate your alcoholic drink with a glass of water to help keep hydrated. Having a piece of sugar-free chewing gum too, especially one that contains xylitol which inhibits bacteria forming, is a good way to stimulate saliva.
3.Plaque build-up and gum disease
There is a risk that if you are regularly drinking alcohol and not looking after your oral hygiene, the build-up of plaque will cause inflammation in the gums. With frequent brushing (twice a day, for two minutes) and seeing your dentist or hygienist regularly, you can help prevent a build-up of plaque and minimise the risk of gum disease.
4. Alcohol can increase your chances of mouth cancer
Having the odd glass of alcohol every now and then can be part of a balanced lifestyle; however, drinking alcohol to excess, especially spirits, can greatly increase the risk of mouth cancer. Last year, alcohol accounted for nearly a third of all cases of the disease. Mouth cancer is devastating and is one of the few cancers that is actually on the increase with over 7,000 cases diagnosed each year. And for anyone who smokes as well as drinks, the chances of developing the disease are a whopping 30 times more likely.*
5. Teeth staining
Not limited to alcohol, dark coloured drinks such as, cola, coffee and tea can stain your teeth over time. A whitening toothpaste can help to keep minor staining under control, and regular visits to our hygienist can help to remove stubborn surface stains.
6. Being sick!
There is no delicate way of putting it, but if drinking alcohol makes you vomit, the acids are corrosive on tooth enamel. So, afterwards it is a good idea to drink some water and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. That way, you minimise any damage to the enamel, which will be softer after those acids!
7. Neglecting a regular oral hygiene routine
It’s very easy to be less diligent about brushing teeth if we’re feeling the worse for wear, either at the end of the night or the morning after, but it is really important to maintain a good oral health routine. The fact remains that only through regular brushing and flossing, and making sure your visit your dentist and/or hygienist frequently (for many people this is about once every six months) are the best ways to maintain good oral health. Even if we still like a drink or two!
Even by following just two or three of these tips, as well as cutting out the alcohol, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining better oral health and getting in great shape overall for 2019!
Mouth Cancer Action Month is a charity campaign which aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer and save lives by promoting the values of prevention and early detection.
The campaign is about making everybody more mouthaware and in November we will be joining the campaign to highlight the risk factors and signs and symptoms associated with the disease. Look out for our team #BlueLipSelfie on social media.
The number of people being diagnosed with mouth cancer has grown by around a third in the last decade and remains one of very few cancers which are predicted to increase further in the coming years.
Although risk factors (such as smoking and alcohol) are responsible for many mouth cancers, it is a disease that can affect anyone.
That is why it is so important we all know what to look out for.
Don’t leave a mouth ulcer unattended for more than three weeks.
Don’t ignore any unusual lumps or swellings or red and white patches in your mouth.
Regularly check your own mouth, lips, cheeks, head and neck for anything out of the ordinary.
Please help us by promoting these messages. Perhaps you would like to take your own #BlueLipSelfie ! If you notice anything out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate. Book an appointment with us. Quick action is very often life-saving.
Our team have made a spooktacular effort this Halloween for our little monster patients. Dressed to impress, The Grim Flosser and her ghoulish friends have come to work dressed to possess! We have tooth friendly Halloween Treats for all. Choose between Frankenstein Apples or Tangerine Pumpkins. We believe that Halloween can be fun without the sugar high.
We also have a Special Offer on childrens toothbrushes- complete your Halloween look with a set of glow in the dark fangs!
Head over to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page for some frightening photos of Guts Gregson and the team!
Happy Halloween from all of us.
Once again our Hygienist Viv and dental nurse Angela will be out and about in the local primary schools next week. They will be talking to the Year 4 children about what to do when a tooth is knocked out! Yikes!!! We have a poster competition with a fantastic prize from@AberavonRFC for the overall winner!