Dental Health And Heart Disease
In recent years, oral health has become a very relevant topic for those who want to enjoy full general health. Also, oral health can provide doctors with warning signs for many diseases and conditions, including those in the heart. The body depends on all its organs to function properly, considering they all have their functions and complement each other. That’s when our mouth kicks in, either helping us communicate and feed ourselves. But did you know that our mouth is not only connected to our stomach but also all other vital organs such as the brain and the heart? This is because, throughout our body, a network of veins and arteries circulate our blood, therefore any condition that we may have in our mouth would directly affect these organs.
The exact explanation for why an oral disease can cause a heart problem is not exactly known. According to the European Society of Cardiology, this close link is explained by the large number of bacteria located under the gum that can pass into the blood and affect other parts of the body, and increase the level of inflammation of the entire body.
How They Relate?
Some studies show that if you have moderate or advanced gum disease, you have a higher risk of heart disease than someone with healthy gums. 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 adhere to any area and cause inflammation. This can lead to conditions such as endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions such as arteriosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Who Is at Risk?
Patients with chronic gum disease such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease are at the highest risk for heart disease caused by poor oral health, if it remains undiagnosed and untreated. Bacteria associated with gum infections in the mouth can enter the bloodstream, where they adhere to blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Even if you don’t have swollen gums, poor oral hygiene and accumulated plaque put you at risk. Bacteria can also migrate into the bloodstream, causing elevation of the C-reactive protein marker, a marker of inflammation in the blood vessels. This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Symptoms and Warning Signs
According to the American Association of Periodontology (AAP), you can have gum disease, even if it is in its early stages, if:
- Your gums are red, swollen, and painful to the touch.
- Your gums bleed when you eat, brush, or floss.
- You see pus or other signs of infection in the gums and teeth.
- You often have bad breath or have an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
- Some of your teeth are loose, or it feels like some teeth are pulling away from the other teeth.
If you suffer from heart disease, it is necessary to tell your treating dentist at your first appointment and continue with the medication prescribed by your doctor until he or your dentist tells you otherwise.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental exams are the best way to protect against developing gum disease. The American Dental Association (ADA) Healthy Mouth site recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle brush that adapts to the mouth so that it properly reaches each tooth surface. It also suggests that you use an ADA accepted toothpaste. You should also floss daily and visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings.
Together with Channel Islands Family Dental, and by being proactive about your oral health, you can protect yourself from developing a connection between oral health and heart disease, while maintaining a healthy, clean and beautiful smile throughout your life.