Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love is in the Air! February is American Heart Month

A note from Delia, OWN Coach; 

February is American Heart Month! 
Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both men and women, yet it is 80% preventable! We always hear about how we should eat heart healthy foods and exercise, but did you know that your oral health is directly related to your heart health? 

Our mouths are full of bacteria and most of the time proper brushing and flossing keeps the bacteria under control. If that bacteria gets out of control, it can cause tooth decay or gum disease…and that bacteria enters your bloodstream!
Well, what does our heart do? It pumps oxygen-rich blood through our body..keeping us alive! Imagine if bacteria- filled blood starts getting pumped through your body…it ends up in your arteries and forms plaque—which can lead to a heart attack! 

If your gums are inflamed, your body sends out this stuff called C-reactive protein(CRP), “a protein made by the liver and released into the bloodstream within a few hours after tissue injury, the start of an infection, or other cause of inflammation.” It basically hops onto the surface of dead or damaged cells and starts to activate our bodies immune system. If you have chronic inflammation, your CRP levels will always be elevated. Doctors can run a blood test to see if your C-reactive protein is high. It is thought that high levels of CRP are associated with narrowed coronary arteries. Now, it is possible that a high level of CRP could mean you have inflammation somewhere else in  your body other than your heart…either way…inflammation in the body is bad!

Alright, so without getting more scientific and having to get out my medical dictionary…let’s discuss what we can do to keep our teeth healthy. You already know that you should brush and floss at least twice a day. Did you know you shouldn’t brush right after you drink your morning coffee? It’s best to wait about 30 minutes after drinking or eating things that are acidic. They can weaken the tooth enamel and if you brush too soon you can damage the enamel. Tooth enamel is actually the hardest mineral source in our bodies-it’s even stronger than bone! It protects our teeth against tooth decay… so, it’s best to wait 30 minutes to brush after drinking coffee, soda, wine, tea, beer or sports drinks(a study was done measuring the enamel wear after letting teeth soak for 25 hours in Lemon-lime Gatorade, Red Bull, Coke and Diet Coke. The Gatorade teeth showed the most wear!)

You should also try to avoid things that create a sugary environment in your mouth. Bacteria love to feast on sugar! Things like processed carbohydrates( chips/cookies)-your body breaks those down into sugar, which coat your teeth, giving that bacteria something to feast on! Chewy and hard candies also tend to linger on and in-between our teeth, once again giving that sugar a delicious playground!

If we all are more aware of our teeth and gum health, we are simultaneously taking better care of our hearts! AND…with Valentine’s Day occurring during Heart Health month, it’s just a double bonus to have a healthy mouth.


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