Would you believe us if we told you that your dental hygiene habits affect more than just your teeth?
You will now!
Believe it or not, recent research has shown a link between poor oral health and heart disease.
What’s The Link Between Oral Health And Heart Disease?
We know that maintaining good dental hygiene is important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy, but less is known about the benefits these habits have on your heart. That said, studies have suggested 2 specific links between oral health and heart disease:
1. Periodontal Disease Impacts Heart Health
Poor oral hygiene can lead to bacteria build-up in the mouth, which can contribute to the development of plaque and lead to inflammation. This inflammation is known as Periodontal Disease, or gum disease.
There are 2 main types of Periodontal Disease:
- Gingivitis (less severe)
- Periodontitis (severe)
Both gingivitis and periodontitis raise concerns around heart disease, as both allow bacteria to travel below the gumline and into the bloodstream. When this bacteria reaches the heart, it can cause inflammation and damage to the inner lining of the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
What’s more, according to the American Heart Association, “gum disease appears to worsen blood pressure and interferes with medications to treat hypertension”.
2. Oral Health Indicates Cardiovascular Warning Signs
Your mouth can indicate potential cardiovascular threats, so when it comes to your heart, paying attention to your mouth is important – especially if you have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
It’s important to contact your dentist if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, as they could be signs of oral disease or infection:
- Loosening teeth
- Swollen gums
- Tooth loss
- Bleeding gums
- Chronic bad breath
How Can I Ensure Proper Dental Hygiene?
The Oral Health Foundation indicates that new research reveals that regularly brushing your teeth for enough time may decrease the risk of developing heart problems by as much as three times.
Make sure you are brushing your teeth for at least 2 minutes twice per day, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste.
Pro tip: Flossing at least once per day and using a mouthwash will also help protect your oral health.
Avoiding sugary, highly processed foods will keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy, but it’s actually more than what you eat – it’s also when you eat.
As it turns out, “food sequencing” – the order in which you consume food and beverages – impacts oral health. For example, eating raw foods at the end of meals has been shown to help clean teeth, massage gums, and generate more saliva to wash away extra food particles.
It’s just as important to remember to drink plenty of water. Water helps wash away sugars and acid left behind after a meal on the teeth and in the mouth. Plus, you’ll stay hydrated!
If you want to make sure your next grocery shop is heart (and teeth!) approved, we’ve put together a great Heart Healthy Grocery List.
Don’t Skip The Dentist
Remember, dentists are doctors. They are specially trained to identify Periodontal Disease and support your oral health.
It is crucial that you visit your dentist regularly in order to maintain good dental hygiene and reduce your risk of gum disease.
The connection between oral health and heart disease is made by bacteria moving from your mouth through your bloodstream to your heart. So, make sure you’re brushing and flossing every day to keep your smile – and your heart – healthy and inflammation free!