While most people know that cleaning their teeth is important for their health, few would ever expect it to have an impact on their heart. Yet experts have suggested that there could be a link between poor dental care and heart disease. It is known that poor oral hygiene can lead to many other health problems in the body, including inflammation, but heart disease may be another ailment to add to the list.
So how exactly could brushing your teeth help your heart?
Gum Disease and Heart Disease: How Could They Be Linked?
Many experts and health professionals now recommend proper dental cleaning to help lower the risk of heart disease. While there is not yet enough evidence to say that poor oral hygiene does cause heart disease, experts believe that it is possible. The American Heart Association says that the link is plausible and that more research should be done to explore the connection between the two.
Currently, we know that having gum disease is a risk factor for heart disease, as well as other diseases involving blood vessels and the brain. Both diseases also share inflammation, and certain bacteria found in diseased blood vessels are also present in gum disease. With all of these commonalities researchers believe that there may be a link between the two. Two theories have been proposed to explain how gum disease may harm the heart.
The Role of Inflammation
Both theories concerning gum disease’s effect on the heart involve inflammation. In the first theory, researchers have proposed that the same organisms that cause plaque buildup in your mouth can enter your bloodstream through bleeding gums and eventually cause heart problems. These organisms are thought to cause inflammation, which can lead to blood clots, reduced blood flow and even heart attacks.
The second theory proposes that these same bacteria cause your body to instigate an immune reaction and develop antibodies that damage your blood vessels. Similar to the first theory, this leads to inflammation, which can eventually lead to heart problems.
Right now, experts agree that inflammation is the likeliest mechanism through which your gums can affect your heart. More research will have to be done to confirm the link.
How to Prevent Gum Disease and Heart Disease
If gum disease does lead to heart disease, there is no need to worry. While more research will have to be performed to confirm the link, simply following proper dental care will lower any potential risk of heart disease. By keeping your gums healthy, you can avoid this risk. You should brush your teeth twice daily, floss regularly, avoid sugary food, avoid smoking cigarettes, and see your dental care specialist routinely.
5 Tips to Prevent Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Even though there is no hard-hitting medical evidence that periodontal disease and coronary heart disease are directly correlated with one another, some studies have suggested that there might be a possible link between the two. It is believed that inflammation caused by gum disease could be affiliated with heart attacks because inflammatory substances in the blood tend to exacerbate serious health issues. There are, however, certain preventative and reversing measures you can take when it comes to your dental health.
Brushing your teeth a minimum of twice a day for at least two minutes will help to loosen the plaque on the surface of your teeth. Dentists generally recommend that patients replace their toothbrushes once every two to three months to reduce the risk of increasing bacteria in the mouth. You should also sterilize your toothbrush every once in a while and keep it in a dry environment, because moisture is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
Floss Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth, while an essential part of good dental hygiene, is simply not enough on its own. You need to supplement the shortcomings of simply brushing your teeth by adding flossing to your dental hygiene routine. Flossing allows you to reach between your teeth and remove the food particles that can get stuck there.
Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet that is full of essential vitamins and minerals can help develop healthy and strong bone structure, including your teeth. You should especially increase your intake of vitamins A and C to promote healthy bones and try to reduce sugary and starchy foods as much as possible from your diet.
It is no secret that smoking is quite possibly one of the worst things you can do for your health. Aside from contributing to horrible diseases, such as lung cancer, it can also have a few minor side effects that could eventually lead to worse conditions over time. Smoking stains your teeth and the tar and nicotine from cigarettes can increase plaque buildup in your mouth. The best thing to do is just stay away from cigarettes altogether.
Schedule Regular Dentist’s Visits
Visiting the dentist on a regular basis—in most cases, about once every six months—is beneficial for a few reasons. First, your dentist has the know-how and the tools to clean your teeth more thoroughly than a regular toothbrush and floss do. Second, your dentist will be able to identify any potential dental issues right away and explain all of your treatment options to you before the conditions worsen. You can also ask your dentist how gum disease could affect your heart and whether a tooth infection could indirectly lead to a heart attack.
Princeview Dental Group is a local dental clinic for both children and adults, located in Etobicoke. We offer a variety of routine and emergency dental treatments for people of all ages. To book a consultation, call us at (416) 231-4562.