How Bad Oral Health Can Cause Heart Disease
You know when you hurt your ankle and the physio says it’s because your hamstring is tight? The link between oral health and heart disease is kind of similar.
It might seem a little far fetched to say that oral health and heart disease have a connection but I have news for you… it does! Let me explain.
When your gums are inflamed because of bacteria (which usually causes periodontal disease), that bacteria can get into your bloodstream which then can cause the buildup of plaque on your arteries which results in hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Atherosclerosis results in problems in blood flow and blockages to the heart which increases the chances of a heart attack. Not only that, the impact on the arteries and blood vessels can lead to hypertension and increase the risk of stroke. If that didn’t scare you into brushing and flossing your teeth, this domino effect can also result in endocarditis, which is an often fatal condition that occurs when the lining of the heart becomes infected.
My goodness, I’m not even done yet! Studies have linked periodontal disease (especially if the bacteria porphyromonas gingivalis is the cause) and rheumatoid arthritis. A 2016 study found a link between this same bacterium and risk of pancreatic cancer! (1)
What to watch for
According to MayoClinic (2) here is some signs of of periodontitis:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums
- Gums that feel tender when touched
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing
- Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
- Bad breath
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth or loss of teeth
- Painful chewing
- New spaces developing between your teeth
- Gums that pull away from your teeth (recede), making your teeth look longer than normal
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
How to prevent periodontitis
Preventing bacteria build up in your gums are pretty simple.
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Get a good toothpaste
- FLOSS! The bacteria between your teeth can cause irritation and destroy your tooth's enamel, causing a cavity. Flossing will remove this plaque to prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria. (3)
- See the dentist every 6 months for check up and clean
I’m super passionate about flossing, so here are some more facts to scare you into flossing.
“The tooth has 5 surfaces, but your toothbrush can only reach 3 of them. The two untouched surfaces are very close to the sides of other teeth, making it easy for food to get trapped in between. When food gets stuck in these gaps, it creates a breeding ground for bacteria to build up, creating plaque. This is where floss comes in handy – as an interdental cleaning tool, it can get into these tight spaces and remove 80% of plaque.” (3)
That’s all folks. Doesn’t take much, but it can make all the difference!