Smile with Your Best Interest at Heart
Your smile may be more closely related to your heart than you think. Studies in both the American Journal of Cardiology and Journal of Periodontology have shown that there is a link between dental disease and coronary heart disease. “Cardiovascular disease, the leading killer of men and women in the United States, is a major public health issue contributing to 2,400 deaths each day. Periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease that destroys bone and gum tissues that support the teeth affects nearly 75% of Americans and is the major cause of adult tooth loss,” according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
Dentists and doctors are teaming up to research and find possible solutions. While there are few definitive answers, there are three main theories explaining the relationship.
Bacteria. When gums are damaged or in poor shape, bacteria from the mouth may enter the bloodstream. This bacteria has the potential to attach to fatty deposits in the blood vessels, increasing inflammation and possibly releasing toxins that can accelerate cell deterioration.
Inflammation. Chronic gum inflammation can worsen inflammation in other parts of your body. This increases overall risk for heart disease and can make existing cardiovascular problems worse.
Thickening of blood vessel walls. New research shows a strong link between the bacteria found in dental plaque and the thickening of blood vessel walls. Thickened blood vessel walls can raise blood pressure and, if severe enough, create blockages that can lead to heart attacks.
Dentist recommendations remain unchanged — brush and floss regularly. And visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings. These oral health habits are ways to keep smiling with your mouth — and body’s — best interest at heart.
Find out if you’re at risk for gum disease. Take the online Periodontal Disease Risk Assessment Quiz. Share your results with your dentist at your next appointment.