ORAL HEALTH AND HEART DISEASE

OVERVIEW:

Studies have established link between oral health and overall health. It has also shown a relationship between gum disease and heart disease.

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is inflammation of the gums. It can lead to the breakdown of the gums, teeth, and bone tissues that hold them in place. Heart disease refers to a broad set of conditions, including heart attack and stroke. Heart disease is caused by the narrowing or blockage of important blood vessels.

However, there is now evidence of 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 higher risk for heart disease than someone with healthy gums. And second, your oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for a range of diseases and conditions, including those in the heart.

Can Bad Teeth Cause Heart Problems?

Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria – and other 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 and other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.

Who Is at Risk?

Patients with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease have the highest risk for heart disease caused by poor oral health, particularly if it remains undiagnosed and unmanaged. The bacteria associated with gum infection are in the mouth and can enter the bloodstream, where they attach to the blood vessels and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Even if you don’t have noticeable gum inflammation, however, inadequate oral hygiene and accumulated plaque, also known as biofilm, put you at risk for gum disease. The bacteria can also migrate into your bloodstream, causing elevated C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

You may have gum disease, if you noticed the following:

  • Your gums are red, swollen, and sore to the touch.
  • Your gums bleed when you eat, brush or floss.
  • You see pus or other signs of infection around the gums and teeth.
  • Your gums look as if they are “pulling away” from the teeth.
  • You frequently have bad breath or notice a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Or some of your teeth are loose or feel as if they are moving away from the other teeth.

Prevention Measures

Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against gum disease development. 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.

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene daily.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary food and drinks.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Making sure denture fit properly.

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