Is There a Connection Between Your Teeth and Your Heart?

The Heart and Mouth Connection

The obvious connection between your teeth and your heart is eating. Too much animal fat containing cholesterol, too many sugary sweets and your heart will have more troubledentist doing its job of pumping blood all over your body and up to your brain.

There is another, more direct and vitally important connection, between your teeth and your heart that most people don’t think about—it’s the bacteria that live in plaque and cause gum disease. If these bacteria begin to travel through your body, it can cause problems in other places—including the heart.

“The cheapest heart health device you can buy is a good toothbrush,” says Phoenix dentist Dr. Carol Ford. “A clean mouth and regular dental visits can help you live longer.”

The American Academy of Periodontology’s research has discovered that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (also called heart disease).

The online resource Web M.D., in an  article called Periodontal Disease and Heart Health, says “. . .one study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.”

“It is easier to understand if you think about gum disease and cavities as a way of spreading bacteria into the bloodstream,” says Dr. Carol Ford, “the more you protect your oral health, the more you protect your heart and brain,” she adds.

In a study reported in the medical journal Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association, a link was found between certain bacteria in the mouth, and clogging of the carotid arteries in the neck. This disease, called atherosclerosis, can lead to a stroke when the carotid artery is involved.

While more studies are needed to determine the precise connection between atherosclerosis and oral bacteria, there are easy steps to take for your overall health. Brush your teeth after meals, floss daily, and visit your dentist at least twice a year. Oral health is kept up on a daily basis, it’s not a task to check off and forget.

“Because dentists have a more complete view of your mouth, we can determine if a spot needs additional care or should be looked at by a specialist,” said Dr. Carol Ford. “It’s smart to avoid disease early, and your dentist can help.”


Speak Your Mind