What brushing your teeth has to do with heart disease
It’s no secret that brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes is imperative to oral health, but did you know that it’s also a factor in heart health?
Although it hasn’t been proven that poor oral health causes heart disease, or that good oral health prevents heart disease, years of research has shown a definitive connection between the two.
Here’s what we do know about brushing your teeth and heart disease:
- If you have untreated gum disease, also known as periodontitis, you’re at an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- If you don’t take care of your teeth and mouth, you’re at a higher risk for a bacterial infection, which can enter the bloodstream and subsequently damage your heart valves.
- Scientists have been able to connect tooth loss patterns to coronary artery disease.
- If you have diabetes, your oral health is even more important. Researchers say that people with diabetes can greatly benefit from having healthy teeth and gums.
How do bacteria in your mouth impact your heart health?
There are numerous studies on teeth loss and cardiovascular health, but a more recent study that focused on oral bacteria and heart health had some interesting findings:
- People in the study who had the kind of bacteria that causes gum disease also had thicker carotid arteries. Researchers believe the thicker your carotid arteries, the greater at risk you are for a heart attack or stroke.
- Of the 682 people studied, people who said they brushed their teeth less than twice a day for two minutes each time had a three-fold increase in their risk for heart disease.
- Scientists believe bacteria get into your bloodstream, then make their way through the rest of your body. This can cause inflammation, which leads to the clogging of your arteries.
- Although it’s quite possible that people who don’t take proper care of their teeth and gums also don’t take proper care of the rest of their body, the study does conclude that gum disease increases patients’ blood pressure and interferes with medications that are prescribed to treat high blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of strokes and heart attacks.
Despite the limitations of the study, cardiologist Dr. Ann Bolge said the study “is a good reminder that the mouth is an important part of a person’s entire health and simple, daily behaviors that improve health are incredibly important.”
How to properly care for your teeth and gums
Whether you’re at a higher risk for heart disease or not, taking care of your teeth and gums is still an essential part of your overall health. Here are the simple steps you can take to have a healthy mouth:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time you brush.
- Floss in between your teeth daily.
- Schedule twice-yearly cleanings and check-ups with your dentist.
Click here to schedule your appointment today with Lafayette’s most trusted dentist.