The Oral-Cardiac Health Link
Until fairly recently, dentistry was treated as a completely separate (and to some, even unrelated) field from medicine. People would never dream of talking about their oral health with their general practitioner, or about their overall health with the dentist. Now we know better, and more and more research is proving the strong and important link between oral health and whole body health. It is becoming more commonplace to hear of the link between the two fields, but there is still much to educate patients about. One of the most studied and important links is between oral health and cardiac health.
The Link Between Oral and Cardiac Health
Did you know that brushing your teeth consistently and flossing can lower your risk of heart attack? It seems silly and unrelated to think about that way, but research shows a direct link between oral and cardiac health! A study published by Delta Dental showed that compared with subjects who still had their own teeth, people who had lost all of their teeth had an 85% higher risk of cardiovascular death, and a 67% higher risk of stroke. Those numbers are daunting, but the great news is the direct relationship works in the opposite way as well: better oral health means better cardiovascular health.
The Affect of Oral Health on The Heart
So how can oral health affect heart health? To put it simply, bacteria and inflammation are the culprits. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the soft tissue in your mouth caused by bacteria, and resulting in inflammation and loss of bone surrounding your teeth. The bacteria causing infection in your mouth can spread through your bloodstream to other parts of the body, including the heart. The bacterial presence around the heart causes inflammation there too. The result of bacteria and inflammation spreading to the heart can cause plaque buildup related to stroke and heart attack, or endocarditis which is an infection in the inner lining of the heart.
Prevention of Heart Disease
Now more than ever, we know the importance of oral health and we have the tools to maintain it. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day will consistently remove the bacterial colonies (called plaque) on teeth, preventing infection. Regular check-ups with Dr. Smith and dental cleanings from the hygienist team will keep teeth and gums healthy. We are passionate about prevention: we want to help our patients maintain good oral health, so that big problems don’t come up. Some of the warning signs of oral disease that you can look for at home and we can help treat are: bleeding gums (yes, even when brushing and flossing), bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, gum recession or gums pulling away from teeth, painful or sore gums, or loose teeth. Sometimes all it takes is a thorough cleaning to remove the bacteria causing the infection to get on the right track to good oral health.
At Spokane Dental, we aren’t just “about teeth”. We see the whole picture and know the importance of oral health for whole body health. Call us today to schedule an appointment and make a positive difference in your own health!