As if you needed a push to visit the dentist, here it is: The health of your gums can be an external signal of heart disease. Periodontitis (i.e. bright-red swollen gums that bleed easily) is a gum infection. It can eventually increase inflammation throughout your body, including your arteries, which consequently ups your risk for a heart attack or a stroke.

In fact, a 2007 study found that periodontitis sufferers were 114 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease! Who knew your teeth and your ticker were so related? The good news is that regular flossing can help to keep bacteria at bay, which reduces the cause of inflammation in the first place. But if you’re concerned, have your doctor assess your risk based on your symptoms and family history. Then you can relax and smile pretty!

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