Good oral health is good for your heart

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- It might seem like  a strange question coming from your medical doctor: “Do you floss your teeth?" But it is becoming more and more common, because your oral health may play a part in keeping your heart healthy.

Dr. Brian Harris with On Call Dental Urgent Care says patients love to hear they have no cavities, but he says healthy teeth are just part of the equation. "So they have actually done studies of heart attack victims and found some of the bacteria  responsible for the heart issues actually reside in the mouth.”

That means doctors and dentists both are taking notice, “It is serious enough that  some people with heart issues, we have to make them take an antibiotic beforehand, so when we get in there to clean things out, that it keeps that bacteria under control.”

Dr. Harris says regular cleanings at the dentist are your first line of defense.“It is the foundation, right, it is the foundation that keeps everything so strong. So it is the most important part," he says.

But a little piece of string is your best bet at home, “Get in there with the floss. It is not to add 10 minutes to your regime every morning, but it really does serve a purpose. “  He also adds, “The most important thing  when flossing is you get that floss between the teeth, to clean the bacteria that are right there where the two teeth touch, but you go down into the gums with it."

Of course brushing is also essential, and mouthwash does not hurt, according to Dr. Harris. “Some anti-bacterial mouthwash, even something you buy over the counter at the local drug store," he says.

Because with a little extra care, the dentist can send you home with a healthy smile and a healthy heart.

Dr.Harris says he knows it is sometimes difficult to find time to see a dentist. He says, On Call has extended hours and is open week-ends to help.