As dentists, we make a lot of references to the relationship between your teeth and good overall health and take very seriously our role in keeping patients healthy. Heart health is one of the least-suspected and most-serious conditions to be traced back to dental health.
There has long been a suspected link between heart disease and poor oral health. But only in recent decades have scientists been able to identify how specific oral conditions impact other distal parts of the body.
Let’s be clear – there is no direct linkage to suggest that good oral health is a critical key to heart disease prevention. Likewise, you shouldn’t expect to treat mouth issues and improve an existing heart condition. However, numerous studies show clear statistical connections between the prevalence of certain oral problems and specific types of heart disease. The list includes;
- Tooth loss and its association with hypertension in women,
- How missing teeth can increase stroke risk, and
- How periodontitis promotes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) due to plaque build-up.
Emerging research notes the prevalence of several serious heart conditions linked to poor oral hygiene. The majority of these are caused by bad bacteria in the mouth.
This infection can damage the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium). Bacteria from the mouth or elsewhere in the body spread through the bloodstream, attaching to certain surfaces of your heart.
Research suggests a more direct link to these conditions, although the connection is not fully understood. Studies show that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke can be caused by inflammation and infections associated with the presence of oral bacteria.
While all this may sound alarming, there is a silver lining. With good hygiene habits and regular check-ups, you’ll stop mouth problems long before they become an issue with your heart. If you have questions about heart health and your mouth, ask us at your next appointment.