Usually when people think of causes for heart disease and heart attacks, they think of fast food, lack of exercise, and other similar lifestyle choices. Other causes that come to mind might be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other diseases that could be passed down genetically. However, most people do not think of their oral health as being linked to heart disease, but recent studies have shown that it very well could be.
Systems of the Body
It is easy to think about each body part or system of the body as being individual from the next, because each seems to serve its own specific function. However, all of these systems of the body are interconnected and often need to be looked at as a whole being rather than as individual units. What we do to one part of our body can greatly impact other parts of our body, and our oral health is no exception to this. Here are some ways that our oral health can affect our heart health:
Our mouths contain tons of tiny blood vessels running through our gums. When our gums become inflamed due to gingivitis, the predecessor to gum disease, those blood vessels can bust. The blood vessels in our gums flow through valves that lead to the heart. If the blood vessels in the gums are damaged then bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel directly to the heart. This bacteria can get stuck in built up plaque in your arteries, which can cause heart attacks and blood clots.
Another way in which our body’s heart health and oral health are linked is through inflammation levels. A buildup of plaque and tartar on the base of the tooth near the gums causes your gums to swell, or become inflamed. This inflammation leads to gingivitis, and then if it is not treated it eventually turns into gum disease. If your gum disease is serious enough, it can lead to inflammation in the entire body because it is the body’s immune response to the infection. This inflammation can impact the heart by setting off a chain reaction if there are already clogged arteries present.
It’s important to remember that a proactive approach is always better than a reactive approach when it comes to oral health, and health in general. Studies have shown that treating existing gum disease does not reduce the risk of heart disease because the damage has been done once the gum disease occurs. This increases the importance of taking early intervention steps before your gums become susceptible to gum disease, thus making you more likely to get heart disease.
Some oral care habits that can help you prevent gum disease and heart disease are: brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist for regular checkups. Implementing these simple steps into your dental care routine can decrease your chances of heart disease. It is important to do the extra work outside the dental office in order to have your teeth and gums looking strong and healthy when it’s time for your dentist to inspect them for any signs of gum disease.
Contact Hiram Family Dentistry!
If you’re concerned about inflammation in your gums that you think could lead to gum disease, or you are just looking to schedule your biannual checkup to keep your teeth in tip-top shape, contact Hiram Family Dentistry today! Schedule your appointment with us and let our professional dental team investigate your gums. We’ll help make sure you are taking the correct preventive steps to take the best possible care of your oral and heart health.