Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in America. February is American Heart Month, a great time to learn how your oral health relates to heart health. Many are surprised to learn that there is a relationship between your oral health and your heart health. Research has shown that dental health and heart disease are linked because of how periodontal disease and gingivitis affect your system.
According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that:
- Gum disease (periodontitis) increases your risk of developing heart disease.
- Poor dental health augments your risk a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can impact the heart valves. (Oral health is especially important if you have artificial heart valves.)
- Tooth loss patterns are linked to coronary artery disease.
- The connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease merits dedication to periodontal treatment for people with diabetes.
Contact Young Family Dental today for an exam and consultation on your oral health.
Bacteria in the Bloodstream
One of the biggest connections between oral health and heart disease is related to how bacteria/germs spread from your mouth throughout your body via the bloodstream. Oral bacteria that is able to reach the heart can latch on to damaged areas and trigger inflammation. This inflammation can trigger illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.
According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions like atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke are also connected to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
“Rather than bacteria causing the problem, it’s the body’s immune response – inflammation – that sets off a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain,” says Harvard Health.
It’s Not Just Heart Disease Either
While our focus this month is on how oral health relates to heart health, heart disease isn’t the only disease linked with oral health. According to Harvard Health, periodontal disease (especially if a bacterium called porphyromonas gingivalis is present) and rheumatoid arthritis are connected as is the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Making oral health a priority is underscored with the knowledge of how influential it can be to your overall health. Beyond paying attention to your oral health, protecting your heart health is supported by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and not smoking.
Heart Disease Prevention Strategies
Dedication to excellent oral health is just one of many prevention strategies against heart disease, but it is an important one. Safeguard the health of your teeth and gums by brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Schedule regular dental cleanings and exams with Young Family Dental to get ahead of tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Know your risks. If you are at a greater risk for periodontal disease tell your dentist. Preventing periodontal disease helps you avoid oral health conditions that could lead to heart disease. The following are indicators of periodontal disease risk:
- Poor oral health habits
- Prescription medications that reduce saliva production. (Saliva helps to rid your mouth of bacteria).
- Poor nutrition
- Crooked teeth or other dental issues
- Dental appliances that don’t fit right
- Hormonal imbalances
If any of these risks are present in your life currently, tell a member of our Young Family Dental team during your consultation so we can help you safeguard your oral health.
Call for a Dental Health Consultation Today
Taking care of your oral health affects your overall health–including your heart health! Call or visit any of our five Utah dental offices in West Jordan, Riverton, American Fork, Saratoga Springs or Orem and schedule a personal consultation with one of our dentists to establish a successful home-based oral hygiene plan based on your specific needs.
CALL US TODAY TO LEARN MORE!