Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada in adults over the age of 20 after cancer. According to the Government of Canada, “heart disease refers to the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries that could lead to a heart attack, heart failure or death”. Research shows that there may be a link between oral health and heart disease. People who don’t take proper care of their teeth and have severe plaque buildup are at a higher risk of developing heart disease than those with good oral health. Undergoing regular oral dental health services not only improves your smile; it could potentially save your life!
What Is the Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease?
You’d be wrong to think that there’s absolutely no connection between gum disease and heart attacks. Actually, in certain cases, the correlation can be quite strong. A recent study conducted at the University of Toronto School of Dentistry discovered that there is in fact a “missing link” that connects gum disease to certain inflammatory health conditions. Heart disease, diabetes and cancer were the primary health conditions mentioned in the study in connection to periodontal disease.
We already know that bacteria that are present in the mouth attack and infect healthy tissues such as the gums and teeth. In doing so, bacteria activate cells known as neutrophils which are responsible for facilitating the spread of infections to vulnerable organs and tissues throughout the body.
Patients who are already immunocompromised are more likely to develop unrelated health conditions such as heart disease as a direct result of poor oral health.
Can Bad Teeth Negatively Impact Your Heart Health?
The short answer is yes. Bacteria in your mouth lead to oral infections such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Plaque buildup on your gum line occurs as a result of an insufficient or lack of a proper oral and dental hygiene routine. If plaque is left untreated for too long it eventually hardens and turns into tartar, also known as calculus. Tartar blocks your gum tissues from receiving oxygen, which leads to inflammation and bleeding. This is known as gingivitis or the beginning of gum disease.
Periodontal disease is a much more severe form of oral infection that can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. As the bone structure in your mouth continues to weaken due to the severe infection your teeth may eventually begin to rot and fall out if it’s left untreated for too long.
Advanced periodontal disease can indirectly lead to heart disease. As the bacteria in your mouth continues to gain momentum, it can spread to organs throughout your body in search of damages and weak spots. In addition to infection, these bacteria can also clog your arteries and cause a heart attack or a stroke.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Poor Oral Health and Hygiene?
In its early stages, gingivitis is easily treatable as long as you adhere to a stringent dental and oral health plan. This involves proper daily and nightly at-home dental and oral health care as well as scheduling regular dental visits and checkups. Here are some of the most common symptoms of poor oral health and hygiene that your dentist looks for to diagnose gum disease.
Bleeding and Swollen Gums
Gums that are inflamed, red, tender to the touch and bleed even slightly when you brush or floss your teeth are a huge giveaway that there’s a problem with your oral and dental health. These symptoms typically occur during the early stages of gingivitis and should be treated immediately before the problem progresses to periodontal disease.
Once you reach a more advanced stage of infection, the problem becomes a lot harder to treat. Patients who are immune-compromised progress to a much higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and cancer as the infection spreads throughout their bodies.
Tooth Stains and Discolouration
Consuming various types of food and beverages on a regular basis without brushing your teeth or rinsing out your mouth can lead to tooth discolouration. While some discolouration is perfectly normal, there are certain types that should be a cause for concern.
Dark yellow and brown stains on your teeth don’t just indicate that you’re long overdue for a cleaning. They can also be signs of severe internal infection or a dead nerve. Either way, immediate dental treatment is required to prevent the decay from spreading to your other teeth.
Chronic Bad Breath/Halitosis
Sometimes, no matter how frequently you use mouthwash or brush your teeth, you just can’t get rid of the foul odour in your mouth. Chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, isn’t just extremely unpleasant for you and everyone around you. It can be a common indicator of the early stages of gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease.
If this is the case, then book an appointment with your nearest oral dental care services provider as soon as possible. It’s important to nip gingivitis in the bud as quickly as possible before it becomes more severe. As mentioned, plaque buildup in your mouth can quickly spread to other parts of your body and destroy vital organs. Once it reaches your heart, your risk of suffering a heart attack even at a young age increases significantly.
Get Professional Dental Care Treatment in Etobicoke
At Princeview Dental Group, we provide a wide range of dental and cosmetic oral health treatments including cleanings, checkups and dental bonding in Toronto and the GTA. If you’re due for a cleaning, a general checkup or have any concerns whatsoever about your oral health, please feel free to contact us to book an appointment today!