How your smile provides an insight into your risk of developing heart disease

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Heart disease is one of the world’s most potent killers. Many people are aware that being overweight, smoking and drinking can increase your risk of developing heart disease, but did you know that your smile can provide a valuable insight into your risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems?

Research suggests that people who have poor oral health are more likely to develop heart disease than those with healthy smiles. A build-up of plaque increases the risk of gum disease, a condition that is linked to elevated heart disease risk. Gum disease is caused by harmful bacteria, which can travel around the body via the bloodstream. Known for causing inflammation in the gums, these bacteria can also prompt an inflammatory response in other areas of the body, triggering heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Henry Clover, chief dental officer at Simplyhealth, explained that excessive plaque is a major risk factor for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

The advice from dentists and charities, such as the British Heart Foundation, is to take good care of your teeth, gums and mouth by brushing them twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, moderating your intake of acidic and sugary foods and drinks and seeing a dentist every 6-12 months. Gum disease is treatable in the early stages, and if you do spot symptoms like bleeding and swollen gums, it’s wise to arrange a dental appointment as quickly as possible.

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