Monthly Archives: May 2017

Gum Disease and the Heart

May 26th, 2017

Does a healthy mouth equal a healthy heart? The indications appear to be yes! Doctors and researchers have been talking about and studying the relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease for nearly two decades. While the exact details of the cause and effect relationship are still under investigation, many researchers (including Dr. P.K. Shah) and government agencies have come to the conclusion there is a link between periodontal disease and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. For this reason, maintaining optimal oral hygiene is an important component of not only heart health, but your overall health and well being.

What is gum or periodontal disease? Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums that affects the bone that surrounds and supports the teeth. Gum disease begins when a sticky, bacteria-laden film known as plaque builds up around your teeth. Plaque forms when starches and sugars in food interact with the bacteria normally found in your mouth. Plaque that is not removed by regular brushing and flossing can harden and form tartar. The bacteria in the plaque and tartar can cause a mild gum disease called gingivitis: an inflammation where the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. If not treated, gingivitis can advance to periodontal disease (periodontitis). In periodontitis the gums pull away from the root of the tooth, creating a tiny pocket of bacteria filled pus that gradually widens. Eventually, infection and inflammation will attack the tissue that holds the tooth to the jawbone, which can cause the tooth to loosen and possibly fall out. 

Nearly half the adult population in the US is affected by gum disease. Gum disease can often be painless, so it is important to see your dentist right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Pus between the teeth and gums and sores in your mouth
  •  Persistent bad breath
  • Buildup of hard brown deposits along the gum line
  • Loose teeth or teeth that are moving apart
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
  • Changes in the way dental appliances fit

Your gums are very vascular, meaning they’re full of blood vessels. When you have gum disease, the infected pockets of germy pus allow bacteria and other toxins to spread below the gum line and move into the bloodstream. Some studies indicate that when the bacteria from gum disease enter the bloodstream, they help to form the fatty deposits called plaque in the heart blood vessels. Over time, the plaque builds up and narrows and hardens your arteries. This results in atherosclerosis, a heart disease. Atherosclerosis limits the blood flow to your heart, putting you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke.

Though not conclusive, some studies also suggest that the bacteria from gum disease in your bloodstream can trigger inflammation throughout the body (systemic inflammation). Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an infection or injury. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can result in endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. The American Heart Association has also stated that there is a causal association between inflammation caused by oral bacteria and cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke. Controlling periodontal disease may decrease systemic inflammation and reduce the risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The health of your mouth can affect the health of your entire body. In addition to possible connections with heart disease and stroke, gum disease has also been closely linked to premature birth, diabetes, and other chronic health problems. In the mouth, gum disease can lead to pain, bone loss, and ultimately tooth loss. Our teeth are essential to healthy eating; when we lose the ability to chew well, it affects our overall nutrition and our body. Our teeth are integral to our smile and the structure of our face; tooth loss or discomfort with the way our mouth looks can lead to a loss of self-esteem and confidence. Follow these guidelines to maintain proper oral health and reduce your risk for gum disease:

• Quit smoking. Smokers are seven times more likely to get gingivitis, periodontitis and oral cancers than nonsmokers.
• Manage diabetes; high blood sugar can lead to infections. Diabetes can also lead to dry mouth, poorly healing gums and thrush (a yeast infection in the mouth and throat). Those who have diabetes and also smoke are 20 times more likely to have thrush or periodontal disease.
• Get regular preventive care checkups with your dentist. Proper plaque control consists of professional cleanings every six months.
• Brush your teeth a minimum of twice daily
• Floss your teeth regularly
• Make sure your dentures fit properly
• Eat a balanced diet, and reduce sugary and processed foods and drinks
• Manage your weight
• Control your blood pressure
• Reduce stress
• Get more exercise

Your body is the sum of many parts and it is important for your overall health to maintain each of those parts. Gum disease can be a sign of the general health of your body. By taking care of your oral health, you are also taking care of your heart. Be aware of the symptoms of gum disease, brush and floss daily, and get regular dental check-ups. Your smile and your heart will thank you!

Cardiovascular System

May 19th, 2017


The cardiovascular system consists of the heart, blood vessels (arteries, veins, and capillaries), and the approximately 5 liters of blood that the blood vessels transport. This system transports oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and cellular waste products throughout the body. The cardiovascular system is powered by the heart, which is only about the size of a closed fist. Even at rest, the average heart easily pumps over 5 liters of blood throughout the body every minute.

To learn more about how the circulatory system works, please refer to an article from Pacific Medical Training, using the following link:  


Fitness and Exercising Myths

May 12th, 2017

Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. It’s never too late to start exercising. Regular exercise can help burn calories, lower your blood pressure, reduce your LDL “bad” cholesterol and increase your HDL “good” cholesterol. People who don’t exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease as people who are active However, in the world of fitness and exercise, myths and fallacies flourish, and some of them may be keeping you and your family from getting the best and safest workout. Some myths are just harmless half-truths, but many others can actually be harmful and can even lead to injury.

Myth: Crunches are the key to flat abs.
Can doing ab crunches help you to lose that belly fat? Experts say no. They may be the most iconic abdominal exercise around, but doing crunches is not actually the best way to slim your midsection. While crunches do tone a small portion of your abs, help to strengthen the muscles around your core, and improve your posture, they don’t burn off a lot of calories and don’t help with fat loss. You cannot pick and choose areas where you’d like to burn fat. In order to burn that belly fat your workout should include both cardiovascular and strength-training elements. The cardio and strength-training will help to decrease your overall body fat content.

Myth: Doing lots of cardio is the best way to lose weight.
Weight loss is about calories in – calories out. In addition to a smart nutrition plan, a combination of both high-intensity cardio and strength-training is a good idea since having more lean muscle mass helps your body burn more calories at rest.

Myth: Lifting weights will bulk a woman up.
Women typically have less muscle tissue and produce lower levels of testosterone than men, meaning they are physiologically less prone to becoming brawny. If weight loss is your goal, strength-training can actually help, but you have to also watch your diet

Myth: The more you sweat, the more calories you burn.
Not necessarily. Sweat is a biological response that cools your skin and regulates your internal body temperature. You sweat when your core temperature increases. Sweating could be the result of a grueling workout, an overheated studio, the humidity in the air, or your personal physiology. Unfortunately, sweating doesn’t mean you necessarily burned any more calories than usual (sorry!). It is possible to burn a significant number of calories without breaking a sweat: Try taking a walk or doing some light weight training.

Myth: You need to work out for 45 minutes or more to get a health benefit.
If you’ve got just half an hour to spare a day—or even a mere 10 minutes—you have enough time to bolster your cardiovascular health. More and more studies are indicating that shorter workout sessions could be better for you. In research the Arizona State University published last year, people had consistently lower blood pressure readings on the average when they split their daily walk into three 10-minute segments rather than tackling one 30-minute stroll. But while this may be enough to keep up your general health, you’ll still need to get more active most days of the week if you’re trying to lose weight. For weight loss, it is recommended that you get at least 250 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week.

Myth: Not feeling sore means you didn’t get a good workout.
While soreness and workout intensity are sometimes connected, how tired your muscles feel after is not always a good indicator of a good workout. Soreness indicates that a significant amount of stress was applied to the muscle tissue. You don’t have to feel soreness to gain muscle strength. A degree of soreness a day or two after working out is very different from feeling pain while you are working out. Of all the fitness rumors ever to have surfaced, experts agree that the “no pain – no gain” holds the most potential for harm. A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then you are either doing it wrong, or you already have an injury. If you are experiencing pain while working out, stop, rest, and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn’t go away, or if it begins again or increases after you start to work out, see a doctor.

Myth: You should work out every day.
Definitely not true! When you work out, you’re breaking down muscle fibers so they can rebuild stronger. However, to do this, you need to give your body time to recover from working out. Scheduling in rest days is crucial. If you work out every single day, you could injure yourself or over-train, which keeps your muscles from rebounding and your body from improving. Aim for one to two days per week of active recovery rest days – that means doing something that doesn’t put stress on your body, like gentle stretching or a walk. And keep your workout varied – repeating the same training pattern over and over can lead to injuries.

Myth: You need to stretch before a workout.
Stretching is something many people just do because they feel they should or someone told them to. The conventional wisdom is that stretching elongates the muscle and helps prevent injury. However, it has been found that stretching before a workout will weaken your tendons and make your muscles feel weak and less steady, which may increase the risk of injury. Warm up by walking before cardio or doing light weights before intense training, and do stretch after a workout.

Myth: Stretching helps your body recover faster after a workout.
A recent University of Milan study on the effects of post-workout recovery methods found no significant changes in blood lactate levels (a measure of how fatigued your muscles are) for people who stretch after exercise. While stretching may not completely reduce muscle soreness or speed muscle tissue repair, stretching still has certain benefits. Stretching right after a workout, when the body is still warm, is the best way to increase joint flexibility.

Myth: Yoga isn’t a “real” workout.
While there are some blissfully relaxing yoga classes out there, tougher types (like Bikram and power Vinyasa yoga) can definitely improve your flexibility and strength.