How Oral Health Affects Heart Health

While you are brushing your teeth at night, you probably aren’t giving much thought to your heart health. Nevertheless, your brushing and flossing habits could have a significant impact on your cardiovascular health. Multiple studies show that a good oral hygiene routine is associated with a lower risk of heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and atrial fibrillation (Afib). Since these are serious health issues, it is reassuring to think that something as simple as keeping up with your oral health can minimize your risk.

The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology recently published a study that included 161,286 participants, with a mean follow-up of 10.5 years. None of the participants had any history of heart failure or Afib upon enrollment.

Upon follow-up, 3% and 4.9% of the participants had developed Afib and heart failure, respectively. The data showed participants who brushed their teeth three or more times per day lowered their risk for developing Afib by 10% and of developing heart failure by 12% – both statistically significant.

What is the Connection Between Oral Health and Heart Disease?

Heart disease is most often caused by inflammation. When bacteria, or other microbes travel from anywhere in the body through the bloodstream to the heart, where they can cause inflammation and infection. They do this by attaching themselves to any portion of the heart or vascular system that has sustained damage, as well as the blood vessels leading to and away from the heart. Once they reach their destination, they colonize (multiply), resulting in an array of cardiovascular issues.

Your dentist will attest to the fact that when you don’t maintain a healthy mouth, bacteria will quickly get to work causing plaque, tartar, and decay. The same is true for your vascular system.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular conditions like stroke and atherosclerosis have been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria that has traveled from the mouth to the heart and surrounding blood vessels. Mayo Clinic cardiologists have further explained that oral bacteria can also cause a serious infection of the inner lining of the heart, called endocarditis.

Visiting the Dentist Regularly is Vital to Maintaining Oral Health

Whether you have all your natural teeth, or you have several fillings and a dental implant in Glenview, IL, you should always visit your dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and a professional teeth cleaning. Not only will this ensure you will have a beautiful, healthy smile for life, it can help keep your heart healthy, too.

Chicago Beautiful Smiles invites you to call to schedule your appointment today – and check back here for more information on the relationship between oral and heart health in the second part of this series.