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.
- Doheny, K. (2009, September 25). Healthy Teeth, Healthy Heart? Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/healthy-teeth-healthy-heart#1