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Is Dental Care Important for Heart Health?

By drfrey on May 09, 2016


A healthy looking woman with a beautiful, white smileEating a healthy diet and exercising daily are essential for heart health, but brushing and flossing may also play an important role in keeping your heart strong. Studies suggest that there is a link between gum disease and heart issues. Practicing proper dental care can reduce the risk of gum disease and maybe even protect your heart. Restorative dentistry treatments can target dental damage and other oral health issues to improve dental function and restore oral health. Learn more about dental care and heart health in this overview from Virginia Beach, VA dentists Scott Parr and Tara Frey.

The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Health

Gum disease is a one of the biggest threats to oral health and it may also be a threat to heart health. Although it is not clear if gum disease causes heart problems, studies suggest there is a strong link between the severity of gum disease and the likelihood of heart issues.

It is believed that because gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums, and bacterial infections are known to spread through the bloodstream, it's possible that oral bacteria can affect the arteries and the heart itself. Those with severe gum disease, called periodontitis, are more likely to experience the following heart problems:

  • Bacterial infections within the heart: Bacterial infections from the mouth, like gum disease, may be able to travel through the bloodstream, spreading to the inner tissue of the heart, the endocardium tissue. The endocardium is the tissue that lines the inside of the heart and the valves. Bacterial infection of this tissue is called endocarditis and can cause permanent damage to the valves of the heart, reducing the heart's ability to circulate blood.
  • Arterial inflammation: Bacterial infections are known to cause inflammation of the gum tissue. Studies suggest those with severe gum disease are more likely to also suffer from arterial inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
  • Increased risk of heart attack: Severe gum disease also appears to be linked to an increased risk of heart attack, as studies indicate those with advanced gum disease are more likely to suffer from a heart attack.  

Dental Care for Good Health

Although proper dental care alone will not guarantee a healthy heart (you also need to eat a heart-healthy diet and regularly exercise), it can lower the risk of gum disease, which may be linked to heart issues. Lower your risk of gum disease by following these dental care tips:

  • Floss everyday: Flossing daily, combined with regular brushing, is extremely effective at reducing the risk of gum disease. Flossing helps remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris from the gum line and between the teeth where brushing can't reach.
  • Brush twice a day: In addition to flossing daily, brushing twice a day is a great way to lower the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. When brushing, be sure to spend a full two minutes brushing the teeth to ensure thorough cleaning.  
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash: Swishing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can help reduce bacteria within the mouth, further helping to prevent gum disease.    
  • Undergo regular dental exams and cleanings: Regular dental exams and cleanings are recommended every six months because they help catch oral health problems early and prevent plaque and tartar buildup where brushing and flossing at home can miss.

Receive Your Personalized Treatment Plan

To receive your personalized treatment plan, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Parr or Dr. Frey.

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