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The connection between oral health and your heart

Did you know that oral health is a strong indicator of your overall health? For example, some studies show that gum disease is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, and research has found a link between gum disease and clogged arteries in the legs.  

“It’s true that many gum disease risk factors are the same for heart disease,” said Dr. Kevin M. Young, a Saint Thomas Heart cardiologist. “The link between oral health and heart health is still being studied, but gum disease may be a warning sign for heart disease, and vice versa.” 

Knowing that gum disease is a risk factor for heart disease, how can you protect your health? The first – and most important – step is to take good care of your teeth by brushing, flossing and avoiding tobacco products. 

The second step is to be on the lookout for the signs of gum disease. If you experience any of these symptoms, tell your doctor and make an appointment with your dentist. 

Signs of Gum Disease include: 

  • Red, tender or swollen gums. 
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing. 
  • Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth. 
  • Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth. 
  • Teeth that are loose or are separating from each other. 

Remember, while there isn’t conclusive evidence that gum disease causes heart disease, it can be a risk factor. Keeping both your doctor and your dentist informed is an important part of protecting your health.  

For more information about Saint Thomas Health, please visit www.sths.com. Dr. Young practices in Franklin and Columbia, Tenn. To schedule appointment at either office, please call 615-565-6670.  

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