February is “Heart Month”, so it’s a great time to address the connection between oral health and heart health!
Gum Disease Can Be Avoided
First off, Periodontal Disease aka Gum Disease is a PREVENTABLE chronic inflammatory condition of the areas in the bone that the tooth sits in. This also means that with diligent oral care practices gum disease can be avoidable.
How is it connected to Heart Disease?
Well, the direct link isn’t clear yet, but there are shared risk factors. For example, when a person has uncontrolled or high blood pressure, then they’re also at “risk” for Periodontal Disease, and that goes the other way too; anyone who has a history of heart attack, stroke, or any other heart disease diagnosis are more likely to have Periodontal Disease. To summarize, people with poor oral health have higher rates of heart problems and stroke. Even if this link isn’t fully understood, the message is clear; reducing your risk for one will likely impact the other.
Did you know that the bacteria in your mouth can travel into the bloodstream and infect your heart? This is called endocarditis, and it may require antibiotics before a dental cleaning for some people with specific conditions. Learn more!
What are the signs of poor oral health that you should watch out for?
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums that include bleeding when you brush & floss – this is also the sign that you should book a dental hygiene appointment to review habits and treatment.
- Bad breath or taste in your mouth.
- Infection/pus in your gums; sometimes this can present as loose teeth.
What about lifestyle factors?
Well, it turns out that the same things that contribute to heart health also have a positive impact on oral health. Diet and nutrition are key to a healthy body, exercise, and avoiding tobacco products are also critical.
In addition, one of the easiest ways to decrease your risk factors for Heart Disease and Periodontal Disease is with consistent oral care practices that include:
- Brushing twice a day
- Cleaning between your teeth and gums daily (floss, interdental aid, water flosser, etc)
- Scrape/clean your tongue
- Mouthwash daily
- Visit your Dental Hygienist as per their recommendations