Maintaining good oral health is key to maintaining good overall health, especially heart health. This is largely due to the link between severe gum disease and heart-related health problems. Fortunately, general dentistry treatments can help get your oral health back on track. Learn more about the link between dental care and heart health in this overview from Bloomington dentists Jay W. Chrisman and David D. Wyse.
The Importance of Dental Care on Heart Health
Maintaining a healthy heart requires a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper diet and exercise, as well as a good oral hygiene routine. Poor oral hygiene increases the risk of gum disease, a bacterial infection of the gums. Studies show a link between severe gum disease and hearth health issues, which may be caused by oral infections traveling to the heart via the bloodstream. Practicing proper dental care helps reduce the risk of gum disease, and in turn can reduce the risk of heart-related issues such as:
- Endocarditis: Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the endocardium tissue. The endocardium tissue is the inner tissue of the heart; it lines the heart's chambers and valves. It is believed that bacterial infections caused by gum disease travel from the mouth to the heart through the blood, infecting the endorcardium. Endocarditis can cause permanent damage to the heart's valves, interfering with the heart's ability to pump and circulate blood.
- Cardiovascular disease: Severe gum disease also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. As oral infections travel through the bloodstream, they can lead to arterial wall inflammation, which narrows the arteries and impairs blood flow. If this occurs in the coronary arteries, a heart attack may occur.
- Heart attack: An increased risk of heart attack has been linked to severe gum disease. One possible reason is the narrowing of the coronary arteries seen in cardiovascular disease, as described above.
Dental Care Tips for a Happy Smile and Healthy Heart
Maintaining a healthy heart requires practicing a healthy lifestyle, but practicing proper dental care can also help reduce this risk of heart health problems linked to severe gum disease. Follow these dental care tips to keep your smile and heart healthy:
- Brush for two minutes at least twice a day: Brushing too fast can leave behind plaque and bacteria, increasing the risk of gum disease. Be sure to practice good brushing techniques by brushing for a full two minutes twice a day using short strokes. Be sure to pay particular attention to the back teeth and gum line.
- Floss daily: Flossing is the best way to prevent gum disease. Be sure to floss everyday alongside each side of each tooth.
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can eliminate bacteria and reduce the risk of gum disease.
- See your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings: Regular check-ups and cleanings are key to catching oral health issues at their earliest stages. They can also prevent plaque and tartar build up, which can lead to gum disease.
Schedule a Consultation
It's never too late to get your oral health back on track. Schedule a consultation with Drs. Chrisman and Wyse today.