Can oral health contribute to heart disease? It’s a question asked quite often these days, but how important is it to actually keep up with those dentist appointments? Well, more than 80 percent of Americans, for example, are living with periodontal or gum disease, which often goes undiagnosed. This may be because the patient’s teeth feel fine, avoiding that trip to the dentist. However, multiple studies are linking oral health to overall health. See, your mouth is full of bacteria, as well as the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts. While many of the bacteria within your mouth may be harmless, some of these bacteria can cause disease.
According to research, there are two specific links between oral health and heart disease. First, recent studies show that if you have gum disease in a moderate or advanced stage, you’re at greater risk for heart disease than someone with healthy gums. Second, your oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for a range of diseases and conditions, including those in the heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria and germs from your mouth to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. This can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
So, how can you protect yourself?
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against the development of gum disease. The American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush that fits your mouth comfortably, so it reaches every tooth surface adequately. It also recommends that you use an ADA-accepted toothpaste, floss daily, and visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings.
By being proactive about your oral health, you can protect yourself from developing a connection between oral health and heart disease, and keep your smile healthy, clean and beautiful throughout your life.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, June 4). Oral health: A window to your overall health. Retrieved February 15, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475
Sandilands, T. (n.d.). How Oral Health and Heart Disease Are Connected Colgate. Retrieved February 15, 2020, from https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/heart-disease/how-oral-health-and-heart-disease-are-connected-0115