Good oral hygiene can affect nearly every aspect of our body’s health. Though, the correlation between heart health and dental care has often been overlooked. Fortunately, numerous research studies have finally established the link between the two.
Periodontists and cardiologists have a long-standing argument about the connection. According to the American Heart Society, there may be incriminating evidence tying poor oral hygiene to heart attacks. However, its significance is uncertain since people with good oral hygiene are also more likely to practice heart-friendly habits.
Other related investigations focus on the key role of bacterial accumulation in periodontal pockets that subsequently make their way into the blood vessels and the arteries of the heart where they build up as atherosclerotic plaque.
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.
Factors That Increases the Risk
There’s no established conclusion that will back up the premise that gum disease or heart disease causes the likelihood of the other. This is a very daunting challenge because both infirmities share the same risk factors:
- Male sex
- Poor nutrition
- Cigarette smoking
- 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
Although there’s no definitive link between gum diseases and heart problems, it is still ideal to maintain good oral hygiene. Combining good oral hygiene practices with professional cleanings and regular dental checkups is the best way to improve your oral and overall health. Here are some oral health 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.
To help maintain good oral health within the limits of a stroke, you may consider the following suggestions:
- Make use of a broad elastic band to fasten the toothbrush to your hand.
- Expand the brush handle with a rubber ball, sponge, or bicycle handle grip.
- Elongate the handle with a tongue depressor or ruler.
- Fasten the dental floss into a loop for better and easier handling.
For people who have suffered from a stroke, you may consider the following for scheduling dental appointments:
- Inform the receptionist when making your dental appointment of any special requirements or requests. The reason behind this is because you need to allow sufficient appointment time to meet these requirements.
- Ensure the dental office is physically accessible to wheelchairs.
- Notify staff of difficulty swallowing.
- If you suffer from poor memory, you may ask the staff to physically write down all of the instructions.
- Request to have the dental or medical history form sent to you prior to the appointment to ensure you have the chance to take your time in completing the form.
- Notify the staff of any events or procedures that frustrate or perplex you, and indicate how they can assist you with your communication needs.
- If probable, ask a family member or a friend to stay with you during the appointment.
- Keep in mind that stroke survivors who have dentures should not purchase a new set right after having a stroke. It is advised that you wait until the time your doctor or therapist is content that your oral muscle strength is at a maximum, and your jaw joint has finally returned to a normal position, before receiving new dentures.
- Make use of a commercial flosser or electric toothbrush.