The Connection Between Oral and Heart Health

The Connection Between Oral and Heart Health

You may not realize it, but there’s a common household item that can play an integral role in reducing your risk of heart disease – the toothbrush.

It’s not surprising that of the millions of bacteria that thrive in the mouth, some would negatively impact the health of your teeth and gums, could also cause problems for other parts of the body. In fact, a number of recent studies have started discovering just that, as a strong link between heart disease and gum disease become apparent.

Mouth/Heart Connection

Individuals suffering from periodontal disease – the most advanced form of gum disease – are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. One recent study even found that gingivitis – an early stage of gum disease – was just as accurate a predictor of heart disease as an individual’s cholesterol levels.

Many health experts believe that oral bacteria could also damage blood vessels and/or cause blood clots by releasing specific toxins that resemble proteins found in the arterial walls and the blood stream. These proteins cause arterial plaque – not to be confused with the plaque that forms on the surface of your teeth – to stick to the walls of arteries where they cause blood flow to diminish. Researchers also believe that inflammation that develops as a result of oral disease may also cause inflammation to develop in other parts of the body, specifically the heart and surround blood vessels.

Back in April of 2012, the American Heart Association release a statement that supported the growing evidence linking heart disease and gum disease. The statement noted that current scientific data showed no indication that floss or brushing or the treatment of gum disease would decrease the incident rate or severity of the narrowing of arteries that cause strokes and heart attacks to occur. However, a lot of recent research has demonstrated a currently unexplained link between gum disease and a number of chronic health conditions, including cancer, obesity, and diabetes, in addition to heart disease.

Defeating Gum Disease

An infectious disease that attacks the bone and tissue that supports teeth, gum disease ranks as a major cause of tooth loss in adults. The American Dental Association recommends the best practices for avoiding gum disease as:

  • Brushing and flossing at least twice a day with ADA approval toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Eat a balanced diet and reduce the snacking between meals
  • Schedule regular appointments for dental checkups and cleanings.

So while current research may not have yet determined a conclusive cause and effect between heart and gum disease, it still pays to prevent oral infection by maintaining the health of your teeth and gums.

 

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