Can a healthy mouth lead to a healthier heart?\nIf you\u2019ve heard about a link between gum disease and heart problems, you might wonder how \u2014 or if \u2014 brushing and flossing can also be good for your heart.\nRELATED: What Does Your Tongue Say About Your Health?\nMany people in the United States have some form of gum disease, and it\u2019s important to understand how your dental health can impact your overall health. Find out more about gum disease, how it\u2019s connected to heart disease, and what you can do to keep your risks low.\nWhat Is Gum Disease?\nYour mouth has bacteria that, along with other substances, can form plaque on your teeth. When you brush and floss your teeth, you help remove the plaque.\nPlaque that doesn\u2019t get brushed or flossed away can harden into a substance called tartar, which has to be scraped off by your dentist or dental hygienist. Both plaque and tartar can lead to gum disease, or periodontal disease, which is an infection in your gums.\nThere are different types of gum disease, including:\n\nGingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that can cause your gums to become red and swollen or to bleed easily. Gingivitis can usually be treated and reversed through daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleanings at your dentist.\nPeriodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease that can happen when gingivitis goes untreated. Periodontitis happens when your gums pull away from your teeth, leaving spaces that get infected. Over time, this can weaken the bones, gums, and tissue that support your teeth, leading to tooth loss.\n\nRELATED:\u00a04 Tips to Help Control Heart Disease With Your Diet\nAre Gum Disease and Heart Problems Linked?\nBy brushing and flossing your teeth each day, you can help your gums stay healthy \u2014 but what does this have to do with your heart?\nSome studies have shown that people with gum disease are more likely to have heart disease and problems controlling blood sugar, which is a risk factor for diabetes.\nScientists don\u2019t know exactly how gum disease and heart problems are linked, but some believe that the bacteria from your mouth can travel through your bloodstream and attach to fatty deposits in the blood vessels in your heart. And, gum disease and heart disease also have common risk factors, including:\n\nAge\nDiabetes\nSmoking\nStress\nObesity\n\nThe Importance of Staying Healthy\nAlthough there is no evidence to show that fighting gum disease will help you fight heart disease, healthy teeth and gums are an important part of overall health. To help keep your risk of gum disease low, you should:\n\nBrush your teeth at least two times a day\nFloss at least once a day\nKeep regular appointments with your dentist so you can spot problems early\nDon\u2019t smoke, or if you do smoke, quit. No matter how long you\u2019ve smoked, it\u2019s never too late to quit\nChoose a healthy diet, which can help your body fight infections\n\nTo learn more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).