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Recent studies suggest possible links between periodontal infections and heart disease. Researchers have reported that the most common strain of bacteria found in plaque can cause blood clots that induce heart attacks when they escape into the bloodstream.

To explain the relationship between the heart and periodontal infections, some experts hypothesize that bacteria present in infected gums can come loose and move throughout the body.

It is possible that once bacteria reach the arteries, they can irritate in the same way they do the gum tissue, causing arterial plaque to buildup in the arteries. This accumulation of bacteria can cause arteries to harden and restrict blood-flow and potentially result in a heart attack or stroke.

Even though the research is not conclusive at this point, it’s still important to try to keep your mouth healthy and help prevent gingivitis from the start. This includes seeing your dental professional at least twice a year and brushing and flossing regularly. Gum disease may be caused by the buildup of plaque. If you remove plaque by brushing with a toothpaste such as Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste, flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist for regular cleanings and consultations, you can help minimize your risk of gum disease. To help prevent gum disease, take these simple steps:

•    Brush your teeth twice daily with a proven anti-gingivitis toothpaste, such as Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste

•    Floss once a day, or more often if you eat sticky foods or foods that can lodge between your teeth (such as popcorn or poppy seeds)

•    Have dental checkups twice a year (or as often as your dental professional recommends)

•    Use an anti-microbial rinse such as Crest Pro-Health Rinse, in addition to brushing and flossing

Interestingly, there are some conditions that contribute to the onset of gum disease. Diabetes, for example, can inhibit the immune system and make sufferers more vulnerable to infection. Also, pregnant women can have a higher incidence of gingivitis.