Rush Creek Dentistry
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Oral Health and Heart Health: How One Affects the Other

woman with good oral health and heart health smiling at the camera

Your mouth is a window to the health of the rest of your body. An unhealthy mouth can be an indicator that something else is wrong. Taking care of your teeth is about more than having a straight and bright smile. It's also about preventing heart disease and maintaining good overall health.

Your Oral Health Affects Your Heart Health

It may seem like a strange connection to make, but your oral health has an effect on your heart health. While the exact nature of the link between poor oral health and heart health is still being investigated, several studies have found that people with gum disease are more likely to have cardiovascular problems. A recent 2018 study found that people who did not brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes twice a day were at a three-fold risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke, or heart failure compared to those who followed recommended brushing habits.

According to Harvard Health, there are a couple of potential reasons for this link:

  • The same bacteria that are involved in gum disease travel through the blood vessels, causing damage.
  • The immune response the body produces to fight gum disease causes vascular damage.

Because the link is still not fully understood, it could be that an outside factor, such as smoking, is causing both conditions. However, many studies have accounted for common risk factors and still found a correlation.

The Benefits of Oral Health on Your Overall Health

Keeping your mouth healthy is one way to keep your entire body healthy. In addition to removing a potential risk factor for heart disease, practicing good oral hygiene has other benefits on your overall health, according to the American Dental Association. These include:

  • Better control of diabetes. While diabetics have a higher risk for periodontal disease, periodontal disease, in turn, can make diabetes harder to control.
  • Eliminating a risk factor for bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia and periodontitis are linked.
  • Eliminating a risk factor for preterm birth. Oral infections can interfere with the growth of the fetus and cause a woman to produce labor-triggering substances too early.

Additionally, saliva is one of your body's natural defenses against bacteria entering the bloodstream. However, if you have poor oral health, it's easier for bacteria to bypass these defenses. If you have a weakened immune system, this can lead to infective endocarditis.

Making sure you have good oral health helps you to avoid these issues. You will also feel better if your mouth isn't sore from oral health problems such as gum disease.

Learn More About Oral and Heart Health

At Rush Creek Dentistry, we use expert dental practices to help keep your mouth — and your whole body — healthy. Scheduling regular dental checkups with a compassionate and knowledgeable dental care team ensures that your oral health is the best it can be. Contact us today to make an appointment or to learn more about our services.

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