The Connection Between Oral Health and Cardiovascular Health

Many people are under the assumption that there are no vital organs associated with our teeth and mouth and consequently, they consider oral health problems to be somewhat trivial.  This can’t be further from the truth!

To say it simply, if your oral health is compromised, the damage caused can be much more detrimental to your body than just affecting your smile. Let’s look at the issues in more detail that can arise from poor dental health.

Two different studies from the American Heart Association conducted 10 years apart indicate that bad oral health can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. One of the studies that was published in 2003 revealed that poor oral health in terms of missing teeth and cavities is similar to cholesterol building up in the arteries, which is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.  A more recent study indicates that periodontal inflammations can lead to the development of heart problems.

Cardiovascular Problems are Crucial

It is important to understand the connection between bad oral health and cardiovascular health because the latter is affecting more than 80 million US citizens in one form or another. That’s not all. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of deaths in the country.  Every year, more than 600,000 people die of heart-related illnesses.

A Joint Report Highlighting the Correlation of Oral and Heart Health

A joint report has been created by the respective bodies dealing with oral and cardiovascular health issues. The report reinforces the assertation regarding the strong association between oral and cardiovascular health.  More than 100 research papers and medical studies related to oral and cardiovascular health were reviewed in the report and consequently, some important points were established regarding the association of gum health and heart disease.

  • Oral health issues are a major risk factor in the development of artery and vessel diseases
  • Gum diseases are a proven risk factor for coronary heart disease
  • Clogged arteries in the lower limbs also have an association with gum disease

The report was not able to provide a definitive underlying reason for the cardiovascular problems; however, experts have provided some important information regarding this association, as discussed in the next section.

How Bad Oral Heath can Prompt Cardiovascular Problems

Development of Coronary Artery Disease

It starts with being careless about your dental hygiene by neglecting the regular routines of brushing and flossing. With poor maintenance of your oral health, harmful bacteria can start accumulating on and around the gums, leading to gingivitis and in more severe cases, advancing to the development of periodontitis. This is a serious gum disease (although easily preventable) that can result in an increased thickness of the blood vessels, due to the growth of bacteria that reached deep into the gums of your mouth.  When these pathogens advance underneath the gum line, they can destroy the gum tissue and easily enter the bloodstream. This bacteria-laden blood results in the buildup of plaque along the artery walls.

This condition stiffens the artery walls which restricts the normal and healthy blood flow through the body. In medical terms, this restricted blood flow is known as coronary artery disease.  A severe condition that can lead to heart attacks when blood flow through the arteries gets blocked. One can easily see how lack of care with oral health might lead to the development of fatal diseases.

Bleeding Gums and Endocarditis

Bleeding gum is a common occurring with people who are not serious in maintaining their dental hygiene. Their gums even start to bleed when they eat something. This frequent oral bleeding has the potential to lead to a rare but fatal heart condition called endocarditis.

In endocarditis, the bacteria that can seep into bloodstream plague the inner walls of the heart resulting in the impeding functions of heart valves. This impairment of essential cardio activity can directly result into terminal heart failures.

Breaking the Connection

It has clearly been established that healthy gums can ensure a healthy cardiovascular system. One can significantly reduce the risk of heart diseases by taking care of his/her oral health. Here are given some tips to break this malevolent link between bad oral and cardiovascular health:

  • Maintaining a routine of regular brushing and flossing while avoiding the things detrimental to both oral and cardiovascular health such as smoking
  • People already suffering from heart problems must be very attentive about their dental health because poor dental health can only aggravate their existing medical condition.

It is important to have regular dental checkups to get a better picture of your oral health in order to protect yourself from more serious and life-threatening diseases.

 

 

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