Brushing and flossing might help save your life: Oral health linked to heart and brain function

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Everything in the human body is connected, so it’s important to pay attention to what you eat. But, the way you take care of your mouth after you finish eating can have a larger effect on your health than you may know.

Studies are gaining attention that link oral health to heart and brain function. Certain oral conditions, like periodontal disease, an intensified form of gum disease, have been said to increase your chance of developing heart disease by around 20%. 

We stopped by the office of Dr. Roy H McCray, who owns a general dentistry right here in Huntsville. He explains how this could happen. 

Dr. McCray says, “that bacteria can get into tiny cuts in your mouth and enter your bloodstream, infect your gums, tissues, even bone…It’s plaque that builds up in your mouth, that same plaque that builds up on your teeth can travel and build up the arteries in your heart.”

Oral health can impact your brain function. Gum disease, tooth loss, and tissue infection has also been linked to the occurrence of strokes in patients. 

Dr. McCray says, “If you aren’t careful with oral cleanliness… you leave anything floating around in the mouth, it’s looking to live. Not only that, it can get into the vessels of your brain, cause mini strokes or other strokes, and it’s coming from lack of care for your mouth.”

Dr. McCray says that when it comes to avoiding these health issues, the best thing you can do is to be aware, and be a proactive cleaner. He says that the public should think of themselves as the best defense against oral decay, and disease is brushing just to brush, won’t get you very far, you have to “brush to clean.”

Dr. McCray says he always tells his patients, “The mouth is the widest opening on the human body, if you take care of it, it will take care of you.”

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