There appears to be a connection between poor oral health and heart disease but according to the American Heart Association (AHA), caring for your teeth has not been proven to prevent the disease.
Studies have shown, however, that people who do not take proper care of their teeth and gums are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular problems than people who practice good oral health.
While this has been debated for many years, more research is still needed to understand the link between oral health and heart disease in its entirety.
Theories of How Oral Health and Heart Disease Are Connected
- The bacteria in the mouth that may infect the gums and cause periodontal disease (gum disease), can travel into the bloodstream triggering the blood vessels to become inflamed and damaged. If this happens, it can lead to blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.
- The bacterial infection that may cause inflammation and vascular damage, can also affect the heart and the brain. This is especially concerning if you have artificial heart valves.
- Tooth loss attributed to poor oral health patterns is moderately correlated to coronary artery disease.
- Poor oral health combined with a third factor that is unhealthy for you such as smoking, drastically increases the risk of developing gum disease and cardiovascular disease.
- Oral health can be the first sign of other diseases related to the heart such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.
Maintaining optimal oral health is an essential part of your overall health. Taking good care of your teeth can reduce the probability of developing tooth decay, gum inflammation, oral infections as well as heart disease.
But if you have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, always inform your dentist on your next visit. Communicating to the dental office the drugs you are taking, both prescription and nonprescription ones, will better help the dentist to determine the best treatment, medication, and procedure that is right for you. Since cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States, staying on top of your oral health is extremely beneficial to your overall health.
The link between poor oral health and overall health is not limited to cardiovascular disease. Studies show that periodontal disease and other illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, and diabetes are also associated with oral health care.
In addition, people with heart valve disease are especially at risk when gum disease is present. If someone is experiencing infections in the bloodstream and it does affect the heart valves, immediate attention is needed from a heart doctor. In the Acadiana area, Dr. Corwin Thomas with CT Cardio is a cardiologist specialist who can help to put lifestyle changes in place to keep your heart healthy.
Read also: Signs of Unhealthy Heart
Ways to Keep the Heart Healthy
- Exercise regularly. Exercising for at least thirty minutes 5 or more days a week can help to lower blood pressure, decrease blood sugars, improve cholesterol, and maintain a healthy weight.
- Maintain blood pressure. Most people do not recognize the symptoms of high blood pressure, but it is a significant risk factor for having a stroke and a heart attack.
- Control cholesterol levels. Learning more about the good cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins (HDL), versus the bad cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL), can be very beneficial to your heart health. The good cholesterol moves the bad cholesterol from the bloodstream reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Healthy diet. Carrying excessive weight puts a strain on your heart and raises blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. This increases the risk of heart disease and other health problems such as diabetes and cancer. Eating high-fiber food with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to decrease the chance of developing health diseases. Plus, you will feel healthier at the same time.
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products. The chemicals from smoking can damage the lining of your arteries causing them to narrow and the blood to thicken. This increases the risk of clots forming and your heart rate and blood pressure rising, all of which puts additional stress on your heart. Plain and simple – smoking doubles the possibility of having a heart attack.
- Manage diabetes. People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke so it is important to learn to manage the disease.
Read also: Heart Healthy Lifestyle and Diet
Improving oral health care weakens the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you want to learn more about heart disease prevention, contact Dr. Corwin A. Thomas today to schedule an appointment.
Whether the connection is direct, indirect, or a coincidence, regular proper oral care can help you to keep your mouth healthy and ward off heart disease. When you think about your health, don’t forget that your oral health is part of the bigger picture. Everything is connected, so when you take care of your teeth, Dr. Thomas can help you to take care of your heart.