Diet Health & Fitness

What’s the link between heart health and teeth?

toothbrushes

Adequate dental care is an important part of a healthy life. Brushing twice a day and flossing are well-known parts of most peoples’ daily routines. Did you know, however, that keeping a healthy set of teeth and gums may also help to keep a healthy heart? Considering that periodontal disease, or disease of the gums, and heart disease, are both incredibly common conditions, this link between heart health and teeth is quite important to explore.1

There have been many studies done over the last several decades to establish a link between heart disease and oral health. They have found that diseases of the teeth and gums can cause issues with the inflammatory and immune systems that may ultimately affect the heart. Gum disease triggers certain cells in the immune system that are also relevant to heart disease. Similarly, gum disease causes the release of certain inflammatory factors that are involved in heart disease. The connection is not fully understood, but the path has been laid for further research and the link is clear. Some studies suggest that these mechanisms are due to an increased presence of bacteria in the blood. This can occur due to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth from existing gum disease or from a normal number of bacteria leaking into the bloodstream during extensive dental work.1-2

Medical conditions and dental procedures

Some people with existing heart conditions are at risk when undergoing dental procedures. For those with new or existing heart defects, those who are immunosuppressed, or those who use intravenous drugs, the risk of bacteria leaking into the bloodstream and causing inflammation of the heart is much higher. These individuals should alert their dentists of existing risk factors. He or she may suggest additional antibiotics before or after a procedure.2

Oral hygiene and health

Many people don’t realize the effects that inadequate oral hygiene can have on the rest of the body. Unfortunately, dental care can be expensive. Ideally, both children and adults should have professional dental cleanings done around once every six months. That may not be achievable for everyone. Fortunately, there are some simple and cost-effective methods to take care of your teeth.1

A brushing routine should be established from the first sign of the first tooth. Children and adults should brush their teeth and gums twice daily with fluoride-containing toothpaste. Every time you brush, remember to floss as well. Regular removal of the bacteria in your mouth can help to prevent bigger problems down the road. Ideally, see a dentist twice a year and he or she will help you to stay on top of your oral health.1

References

  1. DeStefano F, Anda RF, Kahn HS, Williamson DF, Russell CM. Dental disease and risk of coronary heart disease and mortality. BMJ. 1993;306(6879):688-691. doi:10.1136/bmj.306.6879.688
  2. Gianos E, Jackson EA, Tejpal A, et al. Oral Health and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease: A Review. American Journal of Preventive Cardiology. 2021;7:100179. doi:10.1016/j.ajpc.2021.100179

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.