Think oral hygiene only affects your smile? Think again. Groundbreaking research has revealed a shocking connection between the health of your teeth and the health of your heart.
For years, experts have debated the relationship between periodontal diseases and heart health. Now, evidence is mounting that poor oral hygiene could be a major factor in heart attacks. Bacterial buildup in the gums can make its way into your bloodstream and arteries, leading to dangerous plaque buildup.
But what are the risk factors? Surprisingly, it’s not just about brushing and flossing. The same habits that put your teeth at risk – like smoking, poor nutrition, and uncontrolled diabetes – can also increase your chances of heart disease.
Increased Risk of Heart Attacks Due to Periodontal Diseases
According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), there’s a notion that the immune system can be stimulated by the bacteria found in periodontal diseases, causing inflammation and arterial blockage.
The dislodgement of these microorganisms from the infected gums may lead to its entry into the bloodstream and eventually reinforcement of clot formation. When this coagulation happens, blood flow towards the heart decreases and blood pressure elevates. This may amplify the risk of a heart attack.
Gum disease and heart disease share common risk factors such as male sex, poor nutrition, smoking, and uncontrolled diabetes.
Oral Health as an Indicator of Heart Problems
A dental study suggests that more than 90 percent of all systemic infirmities, including heart problems, have oral symptoms. By closely examining for signs of dental infection, oral pain, or inflammation, dental practitioners can help patients with a medical history of heart diseases.
As stressed by the AGD, some patients who were given the right prognosis and treatment for their gum and tooth problems also show signs of decreased blood pressure and general health improvement.
Indicators of Gum Disease
More than 80 percent of American adults are affected by gum diseases based on the statistics held by the AGD. Symptoms of the problem can include:
- Gum bleeding during and/or after tooth brushing or flossing
- Tender, red, or swollen gums
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Chronic bad breath
- Gum abscesses
- Wobbly teeth or tooth
Preventive Measures for Gum Disease
Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for overall health. Brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing, using antibacterial mouthwash, and eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of gum disease. Avoiding tobacco is also important. Here are some more tips:
- At least two minutes twice a day, brush the teeth and the gum line using a fluoridated toothpaste.
- For hard-to-reach areas, use floss to eliminate plaque.
- To reduce plaque buildup by up to 20 percent, use an antibacterial mouth rinse.
- Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and low in sugar and carbs.
- Avoid tobacco usage.
Managing the spread of periodontitis is more complicated if inflammation has already reached under the gum line. Professional and home care are both necessary in these cases. Some periodontal treatments may include surgery to fold back the gum tissue after the removal of tartar and plaque under the gum line. There’s also grafting when the replacement of eroded gum tissue is needed.
While research results are a consensus of sorts, the debate about the direct linkage of periodontitis and other oral issues to heart disease is still aflame. Regardless, it still makes perfect sense to maintain optimal dental care and practice a healthy lifestyle to ensure that both oral and heart health are always at their peak.
Why are those with tooth loss more likely to suffer from heart disease?
Assuming that the risk of heart disease and tooth loss are tied, our bodies don’t just say one day, “Oh, you’re missing teeth. Here’s your heart disease.” It’s not about missing teeth; it’s about poor oral health which then leads up to tooth loss.
When your oral hygiene and overall health is so poor that you begin to lose your natural teeth, it greatly impacts the rest of your health. Excess oral bacteria in the mouth can transfer to other parts of the body. As a result, this can affect vital organs, bodily functions, and systems in the body.
Since our oral health impacts the rest of our body, it’s critical to emphasize the health of our pearly whites. This isn’t to say that we need perfect teeth, but it does mean twice-a-day brushing and flossing are absolutely vital. We should take care of ourselves, our body, and our oral health in order to live the healthiest life as possible.
It is important to recognize the close relationship between oral and cardiac health. Poor oral hygiene, or neglecting regular check-ups, can lead to serious cardiovascular health consequences. But the good news is that much of these risks can be greatly reduced by following a few simple steps: brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, visit your dentist for regular check-ups (ideally every 6 months) and stay informed on current research linking oral health to cardiovascular health.