Dental professionals across the country agree that poor oral health can negatively affect the entire body, including the heart. In particular, bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream can lead to infection and inflammation, even in the heart. Studies have shown that those with poor oral health have higher incidences of cardiovascular disease than those with good oral health. They have also demonstrated that having advanced gum disease puts you at a higher risk of heart disease. Here, Dr. Stephen Coates, DDS shares the relation between oral health and cardiovascular disease.
Oral Health and The Heart
The connection between oral health and heart health can be seen in these occurrences:
- Gum disease is associated with a greater risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis that leads to issues with blood flow and blockages can increase the risk of a heart attack. Also, it has been revealed that oral bacteria have been found in fatty deposits of those with atherosclerosis.
- Bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream and adversely affect heart valves. Blood vessel inflammation and damage may occur, leading to heart attack and strokes. Endocarditis, an infection of the inner heart lining, can be caused by inflammation.
- All of the organisms in the mouth can lead to bacterial growth. When teeth are not taken care of correctly, your heart can suffer the consequences.
Staying on Top of Your Oral Health
You can prevent gum disease. To keep your oral health in good shape, the ADA suggests these simple tips to follow including:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes with fluoride using a soft-bristled brush
- Flossing daily
- Maintaining regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Avoiding chewing tobacco and smoking
- Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet, limiting sugary foods and drinks
- Visiting your dentist at least every six months for regular checkups
Who is Most at Risk
While those with chronic gum disease have the highest risk for heart disease, the bacteria associated with any level of gum disease can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Once the gum disease is identified, some things can be done to manage your oral health. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Red, swollen, or bleeding, or sore gums
- Gums pulling away from your teeth
- Bad breath or taste in the mouth
- Loose or shifting teeth
Either by a direct or an indirect link, your oral health is a good indicator of your overall health. Take care of your teeth to avoid oral health problems to lower your risk for serious health issues, including heart disease. Visit your dental professional regularly to help them identify signs of cardiovascular problems.
If you have cardiovascular disease, your dentist can offer recommendations to improve your oral health. Dr. Stephen Coates DDS and his team can help you with brushing techniques and dental care products to prevent dental disease and keep your smile sparkling and healthy. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment!