While dentists largely focus on protecting the teeth and other oral structures, that doesn’t mean they don’t also care about other areas of your body, such as your heart. As more research is conducted, dentists are becoming increasingly aware of the potential influence that dental diseases can have on whole-body wellness. Since it’s American Heart Health Month, there’s no better time to consider how your oral hygiene could make a difference for one of the most important areas of your body.
The Gum Disease and Body Connection
While there is not enough research to confirm that oral disease and heart disease are related directly, there’s enough evidence out there to make dentists be extra careful. After all, most dental professionals care about preventing problems before they appear, whether they’re helping patients avoid disease that is dental or cardiovascular in nature.
For example, it’s possible for oral bacteria that’s normally exclusive to the mouth to reach other areas through the bloodstream. This occurs when gum disease breaks down the barrier separating the mouth from the rest of the body, including the heart. As a result, oral bacteria can put the heart at greater risk for inflammation and plaque development, leading to serious conditions like endocarditis, atherosclerosis, and stroke.
Are You at Risk?
If you have chronic conditions like gum disease, there’s a chance that you’re actually at higher risk for heart disease. This is specifically within the context of poor oral health. If you have undiagnosed gum disease, you could be at even higher risk of cardiovascular conditions.
For example, one study known as the PAROKRANK study found that out of 43% of participants who had previously experienced a heart attack also had gum disease. In comparison, only 33% of healthy adults had gum disease, indicating a slightly higher risk for those who had heart problems at some point in their lives.
At the end of the day, a strong commitment to oral hygiene could make the difference between putting yourself at higher risk for heart disease and being a healthy adult. Researchers continue to study this correlation very closely, but it never hurts to remove any possibility by maintaining a few key habits.
Important Tips for Long-Term Health
The good news is avoiding dental conditions like gum disease is relatively easy to perform. It’s one of the reasons why dentists emphasize the importance of routine prevention, both at home and a dental office. For example, it’s recommended that you:
- Brush twice a day using fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss at least once a day
- Brush for two minutes at a time
- Maintain a balanced diet that is low in sugar
- Visit a dentist twice a year for a regular checkup
By scheduling a visit with a dentist, you can ensure that your oral hygiene is complete and that you’re (at least in terms of your oral health) doing everything possible to lower your risk for conditions that may put you at risk for cardiovascular disease!
About University Dental Professionals
Whether you’re in need of a regular exam and cleaning or advanced periodontal services to treat gum disease, the dentists at University Dental Professionals have got your back. As a practice with many specialists available to serve you all under one roof, there’s no need to travel across town just to get the professional attention you’re looking for. To schedule an appointment, you can contact them through their website.