You may not realize it, but your dental health can have a significant impact on your heart health. Experts are still figuring out the connection between the two, but they have already shown a strong correlation. The bottom line is that good oral health does more than keep your mouth healthy. It also reduces your chances of cardiovascular problems.
Medical professionals and researchers have found a clear link between people with poor oral health and cardiovascular issues. Because of this, it is worth learning more about the connection. After all, knowing more about how the two are related may be the extra motivation you need to stay on top of your oral health.
How We Know the Two Are Connected
There are plenty of reasons that Dr. Dhiraj Sharma and other experts agree that your dental health is closely connected to your heart health. Throughout various studies, researchers have found a connection between periodontitis and a higher risk of heart disease.
There is also a connection between people who experience tooth loss and those with coronary artery disease.
Experts also recognize a “strong connection” between cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This combines with the fact that research shows diabetics see improvements from periodontal treatment.
Possible Reasons for the Connection
Although experts know there is a link between oral health and heart health, there is no overall consensus about why this is the case. Bacteria are the most likely suspect, but the connection may be due to another factor.
The Connection Likely Comes From Bacteria
Most medical experts feel that the link between heart health and oral health comes down to bacteria. Remember that if you have gingivitis or periodontitis, this means that bacteria are infecting your gums.
These bacteria can enter your blood vessels and then travel throughout your body. When the bacteria reach blood vessels in other areas of your body, including your heart, they can cause problems via damage and inflammation. Specifically, this damage can lead to cardiovascular issues, like stroke, heart attack, and small blood clots.
The bacteria can also affect your heart valves. People with artificial heart valves have to be extra careful due to these bacteria. The bacteria may also attach to any part of your heart that is damaged, leading to inflammation there. Another potential issue with this would be endocarditis when the inner lining of your heart has an infection.
This is the most common explanation of how oral health affects heart health. It is supported by the fact that experts have found the remains of oral bacteria in the atherosclerotic blood vessels, which are not close to the mouth. However, some say that the fact that antibiotics don’t reduce your cardiovascular risk hurts this theory.
It Could Be the Immune System
Another potential link is the immune system. It could be that when your oral health is poor, this triggers inflammation as part of your body’s immune response. That, in turn, may cause vascular damage throughout your body. In addition to other areas of your body, it would affect the brain and heart.
There May Be Another Factor
It is also possible that oral health does not directly affect heart health, and a third factor affects both of them. For example, smoking can negatively affect both. The same could be true for lack of access to health care.
This idea is supported by a 2018 study that looked at more than 1 million people and 65,000 cardiovascular effects. When the researchers adjusted for age, they found a moderate link between coronary heart disease and tooth loss. But this connection mostly disappeared when they also accounted for whether someone smokes.
You Shouldn’t Worry About the Reason for the Connection – Know It Is There
Even as experts work to figure out exactly why dental health affects heart health, you do not necessarily need to know why that is the case. The important thing is that experts like Dr. Dhiraj Sharma have found a connection between the two. This means that keeping your mouth healthy can help with your overall heart health.
Who Has a Higher Risk?
Some people have a higher risk of their oral health impacting their heart health than others.
If you have a chronic gum condition, such as advanced periodontal disease or gingivitis, you have a higher chance of having heart issues. This is especially true if your oral health problems aren’t diagnosed, as this allows them to get worse.
That said, even less severe oral health problems can increase the risk. Even just having biofilm, which is accumulated plaque, can have an effect.
Bonus: Oral Health Can Affect Other Health Issues
In addition to affecting your heart health, your oral health may be connected to arthritis. Studies have linked periodontal disease with rheumatoid arthritis. There is also a link between periodontal disease and the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Both connections still require more research to determine the connection.
How to Care for Your Oral Health to Protect Your Heart Health
The bottom line is that taking care of your oral health does more than keeping your mouth healthy. By ensuring your teeth and gums are healthy, you can also reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall heart health.
To take advantage of this connection and keep your mouth healthy, you should brush your teeth twice a day or more and floss every day. You also need to make sure to have regular cleanings and checkups with Dr. Sharma. These professional cleanings remove plaque and tartar you cannot remove yourself at home. The cleanings and checkups also give Dr. Sharma the chance to evaluate your mouth and ensure that you don’t show any early signs of periodontal or dental issues.
Remember that catching an issue early tends to lead to less-invasive treatments. Regular checkups and cleanings can reduce your need for root canals and crowns and even prevent tooth loss. You can make an appointment with our dental offices in Chicago by contacting us today.