Practicing proper dental care is not only important to oral health, it's also important to heart health. Recent studies suggest a strong link between oral health issues, specifically gum disease, and certain heart problems. Proper dental care can help prevent the need for oral surgery and reduce the risk of heart issues associated with oral health problems. The team at Dental Associates of New England offers this explanation of the link between oral health and heart health. To learn more about dental care and heart health, contact our Boston practice today.
The Link between Oral Health and Heart Health
Poor oral hygiene can lead to many oral health issues like tooth decay and gum disease. Gum disease is of particular concern as studies suggest those who suffer from severe gum disease are more likely to experience heart health issues. The most likely explanation is that the bacteria that cause gum disease can reach the heart by traveling through the bloodstream. Patients with severe gum disease are more likely to suffer from the following heart health issues:
- Bacterial infections within the heart: Bacterial infections within the mouth, like gum disease, can spread to the heart through the bloodstream, resulting in endocarditis. Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the inner heart tissue, called the endocardium. This tissue lines the inside of the heart, including the heart valves. Endocarditis can lead to permanent damage of the heart valves, impairing the heart's ability to pump blood.
- Arterial inflammation and cardiovascular disease: Oral bacteria has also been linked to arterial inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Arterial inflammation is essentially a swelling of the arterial tissue. As this tissue swells, the arteries narrow, resulting in reduced blood flow. When the coronary arteries, the arteries that feed the heart, become inflamed, a heart attack may occur. Other cardiovascular diseases, like abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure, are also linked to oral health.
- Heart attack: Those with severe gum disease are at greater risk of heart attack. As stated above, this may be a result of coronary artery inflammation.
Protect Oral and Heart Health
Proper dental care is the best defense against oral health problems. By maintaining a healthy smile, you can reduce your risk of heart-related health problems. Some dental care steps you should take include:
- Floss everyday: Flossing is one of the best ways to prevent gum disease. Floss at least once a day, everyday. When flossing, be sure to floss along each side of each tooth, bringing the floss as far along the gum line as possible.
- Brush your teeth twice a day using proper techniques: The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, generally in the morning and at night. To properly brush your teeth, brush for at least two full minutes at each brushing. Also, use short strokes and hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to reach the gum line. Be sure to brush all sides of each tooth.
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing helps prevent gum disease by reducing bacteria within the mouth.
- See your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings: See your dentist at least once every six months for a regular check-up and cleaning. Dental exams allow your dentist to catch oral health issues as early as possible and professional cleanings keep the teeth free of plaque and tartar buildup.
Schedule a Consultation
For more information or answers to your specific questions, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with our team at the Dental Associates of New England.