Can Poor Oral Health Really Lead to Heart Disease?
Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body, and there are several common risk factors we know of that can contribute to heart disease. But did you know that the health of your mouth might affect the health of your heart?
A slew of studies has linked periodontitis or gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease. Research says that poor oral hygiene and bleeding gums could allow up to 700 different types of bacteria to escape into the bloodstream and put you at risk of life-threatening clots.
The bacteria that travel from your mouth into your bloodstream can also cause elevated C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, found a Cleveland Clinic study.
According to Mayo Clinic, this spread of bacteria — and other germs — from your mouth to other parts of your body through the bloodstream, can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
The American Heart Association has also determined that cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Understanding the importance of treating gum disease in patients with heart disease will lead to future studies and recommendations for careful attention to oral health to protect patients against heart disease.
So, is there a correlation between poor oral health and heart disease?
While numerous studies have been conducted examining the link between poor oral hygiene and heart illness, conclusive evidence regarding the same is yet not available. Whether the link is direct, indirect, or coincidental, a healthy mouth and a regimen to keep it that way (including not smoking and getting regular dental care) can help you keep your oral health in check. Making your oral health a priority can grant you a ton of other benefits, too.
While we wait for more studies on the link between oral health and overall health, it is advisable to keep brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist.
Preventive measures you can take
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against gum disease development. If you must begin now, the most important steps you can take to maintain good oral health (including prevention of tooth decay or cavities) are:
- Brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner
- Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks
- Visit your dentist regularly for oral examinations and professional dental cleanings
Regular dental check-ups and examinations are highly recommended as a dental specialist can determine signs of gum infections that may not be visible to the human eye.
At Dr Michael’s Dental Clinic, we have a fine line-up of dental specialists with expertise in treating gum disease. If you think you are suffering from an infection in your gums, do contact us and we’d be happy to treat you.