Is Dental Care Important for Heart Health?

Apr 28, 2016 @ 09:00 AM — by drmori

A woman smilingThere are many factors that contribute to heart health. A healthy diet and regular exercise keep the heart strong and healthy, but maintaining good oral health may also contribute to heart health. In fact, studies suggest a link between gum disease and heart issues. General dentistry treatments can help prevent gum disease and other oral health problems to keep your smile at its best. To learn more about your treatment options, or for answers to your questions about dental care and heart health, schedule a consultation with Staten Island, NY dentist Joseph Mormino.

The Importance of Dental Care for Heart Health

Although it's not entirely clear if oral health issues cause heart problems, there is a link between the presence of heart problems and severe gum disease, called periodontitis. Gum disease is a bacterial infection, and like most infections, it can spread. If left untreated, gum disease can infect the jawbone and may even spread through the bloodstream, where it may reach the heart.

Practicing proper dental care, including brushing and flossing routinely and seeing your dentist every six months, is key to preventing gum disease. It may even help protect the heart from the following issues, which are linked to periodontitis:

  • Endocarditis: Bacteria from infections in the mouth may travel to the heart, resulting in an infection of the endocardium tissue, the tissue lining the inside of the heart and the valves. This type of infection, called endocarditis, can cause permanent damage to the heart's valves, impacting the heart's ability to pump blood.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Bacterial infections in the mouth are known to cause gum inflammation. This same mechanism may lead to arterial inflammation as well, explaining why those with severe gum disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease.
  • Heart attack: Those with severe gum disease are also at greater risk of abnormal heart rhythms, coronary artery disease, and heart attack.

Dental Care Tips for a Healthy Smile and Heart

Proper dental care can help reduce the risk of gum disease, and when combined with eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising daily, it may help reduce the risk of heart problems. Follow these dental care tips to keep your smile healthy and reduce the risk of heart-related health problems.

  • Brush twice a day: Brushing the teeth at least twice a day removes plaque, bacteria, and food debris from the teeth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Floss once a day: Flossing is just as important as brushing the teeth. Flossing the teeth removes plaque, bacteria, and food remnants between the teeth and along the gum line where brushing can't reach, making flossing more effective at reducing the risk of gum disease than brushing alone.
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can further eliminate bacteria within the mouth, helping to decrease the risk of gum disease.
  • See your dentist every six months: Seeing your dentist every six months for a general exam and cleaning is one of the best ways to prevent oral health issues, like gum disease, as well as catch issues early, when they're most easily treated.

Schedule a Consultation

For more dental care tips, or to discuss your treatment options, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mormino.

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