Images of hearts will be everywhere this week as lovers celebrate Valentine’s Day. Given that February is Heart Health Month, all those images of love from the heart certainly seem very appropriate in more ways than one!

Of course, it is not our intent to cast any shadows on the romantic images a Valentine’s heart can represent. However, as health care providers, our focus on the heart does tend to be bit more clinical!

We understand that some of you would question why would a dental office be concerned about the health of your heart. The truth is our concern is quite valid for a number of reasons.

First of all, you may have noticed that more and more dental offices are measuring blood pressure of their patients. The reason for this is that if you arrive at an appointment with us experiencing elevated blood pressure, we may have to assess whether it is in your best interest to proceed with treatment at that time.

On a similar note, many patients with heart issues may be taking medication as part of their treatment. It is vital that we be aware of any medication you may be taking before we proceed with your dental appointment. Otherwise, there is a risk that we could administer something that may not mix well with your current medication. This is a situation we obviously want to avoid!

These are perhaps the more dramatic reasons why, at Rideau Dental Centre, the health of your heart is of great concern to us. However, there are also positive reasons for our concern that focus on prevention of heart disease. Believe it or not, good oral health is increasingly being recognized as one of the keys to maintaining a healthy heart!

That is right! Brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once, combined with regular visits to your dentist, may be a key component of the ticket to better heart health for many of you!

Before you scratch your head wondering how good oral health care can reduce your risk of heart disease, you should be aware that the American Association of Retired Persons included good oral health care on its list of best practices to take care of the hearts of its members.

To understand why this would be the case, keep in mind how the mouth is an open access point to many bacteria that can be harmful to the body, including the heart. A mouth that is properly cleaned and healthy is better able to filter out those harmful bacteria.

However, if plaque is allowed to build up along the gum line, your mouth will be less able to keep potentially dangerous bacteria from entering your blood stream. The wrong type of bacteria going in the wrong direction could result in consequences to your cardiovascular health you never would have anticipated when you decided you were too busy to brush or floss!

So this month, as we focus on heart health, allow us to contribute to your improved health in the best way we can. Let us help reduce the chance of dangerous bacteria attacking your heart…because good oral health is a healthy habit…and this month, healthy habits lead to healthy hearts.

Dr. George Parry  

Dental Surgeon