Oral health is an essential aspect of overall health, and poor oral health can contribute to a variety of health problems. One of the most surprising connections between oral health and overall health is the link between oral health and stroke. Stroke is a serious condition that can have long-lasting effects on a person’s health and quality of life. In this article, we will explore the connection between oral health and stroke and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
What is a Stroke?
Before diving into the connection between oral health and stroke, it is important to understand what a stroke is. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, either by a clot (ischemic stroke) or by bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). When this happens, brain cells begin to die, and the damage can have long-lasting effects on a person’s health and well-being. The symptoms of a stroke can include numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, trouble speaking or understanding speech, and difficulty seeing in one or both eyes.
The Connection Between Oral Health and Stroke
Research has shown that there is a connection between oral health and stroke. In particular, people with gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) have a higher risk of experiencing a stroke than people without gum disease. Gum disease is a common condition that occurs when bacteria build up on the teeth and gums, causing inflammation and damage to the tissues that support the teeth. This can lead to gum recession, tooth loss, and other oral health problems.
So, how does gum disease increase the risk of stroke? One theory is that the bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, including the brain. Once there, the bacteria can cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels, increasing the risk of a stroke. Additionally, gum disease is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is also linked to an increased risk of stroke.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
If you are concerned about the connection between oral health and stroke, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
One of the most important things you can do to protect your oral health and reduce your risk of stroke is to practice good oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash to kill bacteria in your mouth. You should also schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings to remove any plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth and gums.
Smoking is a known risk factor for gum disease, as well as many other health problems. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your oral health and overall health. Talk to your doctor or a smoking cessation specialist for help quitting.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet can also help protect your oral health and reduce your risk of stroke. Choose foods that are low in sugar and high in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks, which can contribute to the growth of bacteria in your mouth.
Manage Chronic Health Conditions
If you have a chronic health condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, managing it properly can also help protect your oral health and reduce your risk of stroke. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for managing your condition, and take any medications as prescribed.
Regular exercise can also help protect your oral health and reduce your risk of stroke. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
Dental Group of Simi Valley
There is a clear connection between oral health and stroke, so it is important to know how to mitigate these causative factors. Visiting your dentist regularly can also improve your health in many ways. Dental Group of Simi Valley, CA will work with you to ensure that you are taking the necessary steps to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and plaque buildup. Call us today to speak with one of our friendly staff members to set up an appointment for you!