As we assess our overall health, heart health typically springs to the top—and for good reason. The heart is the powerhouse of the body and pumps nutrients and oxygen throughout the day and through the night. What about teeth health? Did you ever think there could be a connection between your teeth and your heart? Before we dive in to the connection, check out these heart facts from the CDC: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease Someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing 365,914 people in 2017 As you can see, the heart is a major concern for a lot of people across the U.S. We want the heart healthy, and dental health is in fact one major piece of the heart health strategy. Oral health linked to heart health There are many facets to complete heart health that you probably know well: exercise regularly, eat healthy, avoid smoking, drink alcohol in moderation, and manage your stress. Now add oral care to that list. Numerous studies have shown a link between bad bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream and attaching to the heart that either causes inflammation or infection. Just as the heart works hard, so does your mouth. Chewing and swallowing those nutrients you put into your body puts a lot of responsibility on your mouth to perform at a high level. Trouble arises when the mouth isn’t performing at a high level (cavities, missing teeth). Gum disease is a main contributor that affects heart health. How does gum disease affect heart health? Gum disease, or periodontal disease, occurs over a period of time when food particles are not washed away, and bad bacteria begins to form and build plaque. This creates a pocket that attacks your tissue and bone. Tooth loss is a result of severe periodontitis, and chronic inflammation may set in. This not only affects the immune system, but also the heart. People that have gum disease are two to three times as likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular events. The plaque that’s created is carried through the blood and builds up inside arteries. This fatty plaque that has formed is known as atherosclerosis and is the prime instigator of coronary artery disease. How to avoid gum disease? Gum disease is prevalent among Americans. 47.2% of adults aged 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease. What can you do to prevent gum disease? Brush and floss twice a day Use mouthwash as needed Be mindful of what you put into your body (smoking, diet) See your dentist regularly You’ll see that the at-home dental care routine is essential to prevent gum disease. But seeing a dentist is also important. This is because once plaque is established, it can harden and form “tartar.” Unfortunately, tartar can not be removed by brushing and flossing at home. You must visit a dental professional such as a dentist or a dental hygienist to remove the tartar. If you have severe gum disease, surgery may be needed to reverse the infection. If the disease gets too far along, compounding issues occur: tooth loss and bacteria moving to other areas of the body. Dental insurance helps your teeth and your overall health Dental insurance, unlike health insurance, puts emphasis on preventive care. Dental insurance ensures you get into the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. Plus, Dentists not only check on your teeth and gums, but they can also diagnose diabetes, cancer, HIV, anemia and chronic kidney disease. If you’re looking for dental insurance to help protect your teeth and your overall health, the Direct Benefits Marketplace makes it easy for you to choose the plan that works for you. With a variety of brands to choose from, your dental solution is here.