Over the last several years, the wide range of researchers, government agencies like the National Institutes of Health, oral care professionals, and more have all been investigating the potential relationship between poor oral hygiene and cardiovascular disease. In fact, according to a study done at Harvard Medical School, people with gum disease are almost two times as likely to have heart disease than those without it.
However, the reasons behind this link have been argued by many industry experts. Some even believe that issues such as periodontitis or tooth loss are directly linked to a host of cardiovascular problems such as stroke, heart attack and other forms of heart disease, and even rheumatoid arthritis.
Bloom Dental of Arlington understands that there are plenty of myths out there regarding the relationship between oral care and a healthy heart. And as the trusted source of information for all things dental, we can help you separate fact from fiction. Let’s examine the correlation between oral health and cardiovascular disease, and what it means for you, your mouth, and your heart:
There are several current theories about the connection between poor oral health and heart disease, including:
1. Bacterial Infections
The same bacteria that infect gums and cause gum diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis can also travel through the bloodstream, causing inflammation and damage in blood vessels along the way. In addition, cardiovascular “events” may result, including blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks. The research that supports this theory is the fact that remnants of oral bacteria have been found in arteries far from the mouth that were suffering from atherosclerosis (a buildup of cholesterol).
2. Immune Response
This theory suggests that instead of bacteria causing the issue, inflammation from the body’s natural immune response cause an array of vascular damage throughout the body, including in the heart and brain.
3. Other Variables
Even though there’s a distinct and tangible relationship between oral health and heart disease, it doesn't mean there’s a direct connection. According to this theory, there is a third factor, like smoking or a poor access to healthcare, that may link the two.
What This Means for You
First of all, it’s critical to note that regardless of the link between these two, maintaining excellent oral hygiene will always be an essential element of your overall health. However, most dentists, oral health professionals, and physicians agree on one thing—more research needs to be done on this subject to understand the importance of such observations and precisely what they mean for us.
What You Can Do
It’s estimated that somewhere around half of all American adults have gingivitis or some form of mild periodontal disease. If left untreated, bacteria, inflammation, and infection will attack the tissues surrounding the teeth, possibly even causing them to fall out.
By following a proper oral care plan, including twice-daily toothbrushing and flossing can prevent and in some cases even reverse gum disease. Additionally, it’s a good idea to visit the oral care experts here at Bloom Dental of Arlington every six months for professional cleanings and a thorough dental examination.
Whether the link between oral and heart health is direct or indirect, it doesn't matter—you should make your oral hygiene a priority. To schedule an appointment for a cleaning or checkup, call us at 703-243-3600 today!