Oral Health and Your Heart
Poor oral health can affect your heart and the rest of your body. Recent studies show that if you have gum disease you are at greater risk for heart disease than someone with healthy gums. Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria from your mouth to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. This can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart, according to Mayo Clinic. Other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria, according to the American Heart Association.
Patients with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis or periodontal disease have the highest risk for heart disease caused by poor oral health, particularly if it remains undiagnosed and unmanaged. The bacteria that are associated with gum infections are in the mouth and can enter the blood stream, where they attach to the blood vessels and increase your risk to cardiovascular disease. Even if you don't have noticeable gum inflammation, poor oral hygiene and accumulated plaque puts you at risk for gum disease. The bacteria can also migrate into your bloodstream causing elevated C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Prevention is the best way to protect yourself and your heart. Regular preventive dental appointments are important. Ask your hygienist about your oral health and how to make improvements. Brush your teeth at least two times and floss once daily. Use Fluoride products and limit sugary drinks and snacks. Love your smile and your heart.