Keeping your heart healthy could be as simple as brushing your teeth. Gum disease has been linked to a number of serious conditions including heart disease - the number one killer of women in this country.
Brushing your teeth and regular trips to the dentist are a part of many people's routines. But what many may not know is attention to dental health may do more than just protect your teeth.
"They've shown that with periodontal or gum disease that there is a definite link to heart disease in people who have moderate or severe periodontal disease," says Dr. Robert Ryan with Lake Superior Dental. This increased risk of cardiovascular problems is due to the bacteria from gum disease getting into the bloodstream.
Women are particularly susceptible. "I took my dog out for a walk and I suffered my first heart attack and prior to that I had no symptoms and no risk factors. So I wasn't aware that I was walking around with heart disease," says heart disease survivor Carrie Loveless. Officials say one in six women in this country will die of heart disease.
"Heart disease is still the number one health risk for people in our country it's something that is often underappreciated by women. But it kills and disables more in this country than any other disease process," says Dr. Altagracia Chavez. That's why taking preventative measures is vital in early childhood.
"The kids are seen at a young age so that we can make sure that the gum tissue is healthy and that there is no decay in the teeth and that the bite and function of the teeth is proper," says Dr. Ryan. To protect yourself from heart and gum disease brush and floss daily, avoid smoking, and exercise regularly. Officials say women can lower their risk of heart disease by more than 80% just by leading a healthy lifestyle.