The Love Connection Between Heart and Oral Health
The love connection between the heart and mouth is the talk of your teeth. It’s not just a rumor that oral health is linked to heart health. People with gum disease are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or another cardiovascular event! And there’s more evidence to back up the benefits of your daily oral health routine…
If you neglect your oral health, you’re at an increased risk for gum disease and heart disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth throughout the day. When the plaque is not removed regularly through brushing and flossing, it irritates your gums and can cause gingivitis. Plaque can also cause tooth decay and gum damage.
That un-smoochable mouth bacteria can increase inflammation and also negatively affect blood vessels. Talk about heartache!
Although there is no definite evidence that preventing gum disease will prevent heart disease, the two share similar risk factors, such as smoking, age and diabetes.
Oral Health and Heart Health
Research continues to tell us that how we love and care for our oral health each day impacts our overall life and wellness. One study found that people who said they brushed less than twice a day had three times the risk for heart disease compared to those who said they brushed at least twice a day for at least two minutes.
A healthy mouth and smile can keep your heart strong; it can also impact other aspects of your overall health. If preventing heart disease isn’t enough to have you convinced, remember this:
“People with periodontal disease were 20 percent less likely to reach healthy blood pressure ranges, compared with patients in good oral health.”
Oral Health and Overall Health
The body has many signs for letting us know how well it’s operating and if it needs some extra love and TLC. Gum disease tells us that there’s an unhealthy level of bacteria in the mouth. And blood pressure levels can tell us that there’s a dangerous level of plaque in our arteries.
If you or someone you love has poor oral health, it’s important that they know about other health indicators like their blood pressure. Research indicates that if gums are in poor health, it’s likely that blood pressure levels are unhealthy, too.
Click here for information on monitoring blood pressure at home. Other ways to maintain healthy blood pressure include a low-salt diet, regular exercise, and weight management.
Medical Conditions and Oral Health
On the other hand, some methods of caring for our health can negatively impact our mouths, like medications. It can become a complex love triangle! Over the counter and prescription medicines like decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow and contribute to dry mouth.
When our mouths are dry, we don’t have saliva to wash away food and bacteria. Acids produced by bacteria in the mouth sit in the mouth longer, contributing to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
Discuss with your dentist what medications you are taking. They can recommend products to help alleviate the side effects and can provide better care when they understand your overall health. For more on medications and the mouth, click here.
If you’re looking for a dentist in your area, click here.
Show your heart some love with these tips:
- Brush twice daily.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Visit your doctor and dentist for regular checkups.
- Avoid tobacco use.
When your heart and mouth are in a happy and healthy relationship, the risk for heartbreak is less. Maintain a healthy mouth and body to kiss heart and gum disease goodbye.
Learn more about the mouth and body connection.