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How Dental Health Plays a Role in Heart Health
Did you know science has found a link between your dental health and your heart? Poor oral health can result in issues such as gum disease. On the other hand, oral concerns could be a sign of another health problem in the body.1
Here’s the connection between oral health and heart disease, who could be at risk for these health complications, and some prevention measures you can take to decrease your risk.
The Connection Between Dental Health and Heart Health
Your oral health and heart health are connected, which makes bacteria easy to spread from your mouth to your heart. If bacteria and other germs are present in your mouth, they can travel through the bloodstream to the heart. Once the bacteria reaches the heart, it can attach itself and cause inflammation, which may result in cardiovascular problems.2
Periodontal disease is caused by a mixture of different bacteria that lives in the mouth. When the bacteria is present, it causes an increase in the C-reactive protein once it’s reached the bloodstream. The C-reactive protein is a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.3
Conditions Linked to Oral Health
If you experience problems with your oral health, it can contribute to various other health conditions, including:
- Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves. This infection can occur when bacteria from other parts of the body, such as the mouth, spread through the bloodstream and become attached to the heart.
- Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease may be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria causes.
- Pneumonia. Bacteria from the mouth can be pulled into the lungs and cause pneumonia and other respiratory complications.
Who is at Risk?
According to the CDC, nearly half of adults in America over 30 years old have some stage of gum disease. The CDC also found that 70% of people over 65 have gum disease. These Americans are currently at risk for further potential health complications, such as heart disease.4
Those who have high cholesterol are at an increased risk for complications if they have gum disease. Gum disease can worsen blood pressure, as well as affect the capability of medicine that works to treat high blood pressure.5
Many gum disease symptoms will not be noticeable until the later stages. However, here are some warning signs to look out for6:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
If you notice any symptoms or unusual signs with your oral health, talk with your dentist or medical provider immediately.
Luckily, gum disease can typically be prevented with good dental hygiene.7 It’s important to take care of your oral health since it can affect other aspects of your health as well.
Some tips to help prevent gum disease include:
- Brushing at least twice a day
- Flossing daily
- Using mouthwash/rinse
- Attending regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Avoiding smoking
Learn More Today
Take the time to learn more about your oral health and how it is connected to heart disease. You can use some of these prevention measures to keep your dental hygiene at its best and decrease your risk of heart disease. If you have any questions, reach out to a health professional who can help you learn more about your oral health.
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Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long-term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Oral health: A window to your overall health.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. Accessed January 25th, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475.
- “How Oral Health and Heart Disease Are Connected.” Colgate-Palmolive Company, January 9th, 2023. Accessed January 25th, 2023. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/heart-disease/how-oral-health-and-heart-disease-are-connected#.
- “Oral Health & Risk for CV Disease.” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. Accessed January 26th, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11264-oral-health--risk-for-cv-disease.
- “Periodontal Disease.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed January 25th, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html.
- “Bad toothbrushing habits tied to higher heart risk.” American Heart Association, heart.org. Accessed January 26th, 2023. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/11/07/bad-tooth-brushing-habits-tied-to-higher-heart-risk.
- “The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease.” The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, pennmedicine.org. May 24th, 2022. Accessed January 25th, 2023. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2019/march/gum-disease-and-heart-disease.
- “Periodontitis.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic. Accessed January 26th, 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354473#:~:text=Periodontitis%20is%20common%20but%20largely,your%20chance%20of%20developing%20it.