Root of the Matter

Remember that children’s song about how “your foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone…”? Seems like they missed the part about how your teeth are connected to your heart, and that good oral health can help stave off strokes, cardiovascular disease, and even dementia.

That’s right – having healthy teeth goes beyond the self-confidence that comes with a great smile!

Of course – it’s not quite that simple either. Heart health involves more than brushing your teeth, but there’s a growing body of evidence linking good dental care with some big health issues.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, periodontal disease (a condition that starts as a simple inflammation of the gums) can leach into the bloodstream, fueling inflammation in the blood vessels. When your blood vessels are inflamed, you’re at an elevated risk of suffering from a serious, or even fatal, cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

And all this time, you thought going to the dentist was just about keeping cavities at bay?

Sure, nobody wants to have a mouth filled with discolored teeth and cavities, let alone that dreaded halitosis, but if that’s not enough to inspire you to check in with your dentist, hopefully the idea of keeping your brain and heart in top shape will.

Not only can good dental care keep your heart and mouth healthy, it can keep you sharp as you age. Researchers tracked 118 nuns aged 75 to 98 and discovered that “those with the fewest teeth were most likely to suffer dementia.” Wow!

Start Building Good Dental Habits Early

The good news is that developing a healthy oral hygiene routine is simple, especially if you start young. Aim to make trips to the dentist a fun event for little ones, and role model good dental habits whenever possible.

If you’re an adult who hasn’t been to a dentist for awhile, don’t worry – modern dental practices have come a long way, and most dentists understand that even grown-ups can feel a bit queasy when it comes to dealing with cavities. Don’t be shy about expressing your concerns – a good dental clinic will work with you to create a comfortable, safe experience in the dentist’s chair.

Show Me The Money

Dentists are notorious for charging sky-high rates, but don’t let the fear of big dental bills deter you – most health insurance plans provide some coverage for dental care, and many trade groups and associations have pre-arranged discounts with dental offices.

Most dental schools run student clinics where procedures are very affordable, and your dentist may even offer a payment plan that you can use to spread of the cost of your care.

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