The Oral Health-Heart Health Connection

healthy smilesDuring Healthy Heart month we’ve been talking a lot about cardiovascular health and the best way to reduce your risks. But there’s another unusual heart-health issue that might not be on the top of your mind—your oral health.

A 2004 study in the journal Circulation found that adults who have significant levels of bacteria related to periodontal disease are also predisposed to have thicker carotid arteries, a condition that is a strong predictor of heart attack and stroke.

The study measured 11 different strains of bacteria, of which four are widely believed to be a source of periodontal disease. The presence of these four bacteria was connected with the thicker carotid, leading researchers to believe that there is some connection between a tendency toward periodontal disease and higher risk of heart problems.

While researchers are still unsure about the exact connection, studies have shown that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease is involved in a number of health issues, including pre-term of low birth-weight babies, diabetes and respiratory infections.

So what can you do to protect yourself from periodontal disease? We spoke with Dr. Ashleigh Putnam, naturopathic doctor at our Monterey store, about keeping bad bacteria in check.

“I really like Herb Pharm’s Oral Health Tonic,” says Dr. Putnam. “It includes thyme and cinnamon, which are naturally antibacterial.” Just place a dropperful in a glass of water and swish. Another way to get kill harmful bacteria: rinse with a cool cup of rosemary and peppermint tea.

Dr. Putnam also says to make sure you’re getting xylitol in your mouthwash or gum. “People like mouth rinses from the Natural Dentist, which include xylitol and spearmint oil,” she says. “Those two are beneficial for any type of infection.” Or try Spry Chewing Gum, which features xylitol and comes in a variety of refreshing flavors.

Finally, she recommends applying probiotics (like Pharmax HLC Maintenance) directly to the gums. “Open up a capsule and swish it around,” she says. Just like in your gut, “The good bacteria impede the bad bacteria.” She adds that you can even swallow it when you’re done to reap the benefits in your digestive system.

For more information on oral and cardiovascular health, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner today.

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