Looking after our health is something that should be a top priority no matter what month it is. However, February is heart month, a time to truly be aware of that vital organ in our bodies that makes sure we stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

No matter how many times we hear the news, it is startling to think that our lifestyles have led us to the point where young adults in their thirties and even twenties can be at risk for heart disease. Yet some people seem more concerned about using politically correct terminology to avoid creating a stigma for at risk individuals.

We believe the focus needs to be on prevention. With that in mind, it is important to focus on the fact that the risk of developing serious heart disease can be significantly reduced by making simple changes to those lifestyles.

Eating naturally tastier and more fulfilling whole foods, leaving the computer games behind and going for a walk are two simple ways to improve your heart health. Another simple way is to invest the extra five minutes a day you may need to simply take care of your oral health!

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.

The reason was simple. No system of the human body works in isolation. Rather, they are all connected. Various infections can be detrimental to the condition of our hearts. And one of the easiest access points those infections can have to penetrate the body is through the mouth.

Indeed, your mouth acts as a filter to keep out so many irritants that could be dangerous for our health. But just like the filter on your furnace, it works best when it is properly cleaned.

A mouth that is not properly cleaned is a breeding ground for bacteria and infection that can travel throughout the body, including to the heart. If plaque is allowed to build up on the gum line, the bacteria that will grow there may not limit its damage to the teeth, gums and jaw.

So this month, as we focus on ways we can head off that heart disease in young people, remind yourself that every step you take to improve your heart health might add not only years to your life, but add to the quality of those years too! Exercise more! Eat better! And take better care of your oral health…because good oral health is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos  

Dental Surgeon