The Link between Dental Care and Heart Health

A woman in a dentist chair looking in a mirror at her healthy smile Proper dental care is essential for a healthy smile, but it may also help protect the heart. If you have untreated oral health issues, you may be at increased risk of certain heart problems and should seek dental treatment. General dentistry treatments can prevent oral health problems and treat existing issues to get oral health back on track. To find out which treatments are right for you, or for more information about dental care and heart health, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our Wilmington, DE dentists, Jeffrey J. Emmi and Laura Dougherty.

The Impact of Oral Health on Heart Health

Oral health and general health are often thought of as two separate things, but they may be more intertwined than we realize, specifically when it comes to heart health. Recent studies suggest there's a link between oral health issues, most notably gum disease, and the likelihood of heart-related problems such as:

  • Endocarditis: Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the heart's endocardium tissue, the tissue that lines the inside of the heart and its valves. Endocarditis may occur as a result of bacterial infection traveling from the mouth through the bloodstream and to the heart. Endocarditis is dangerous to heart health as it can lead to permanent damage of the valves, diminishing the heart's ability to circulate blood.
  • Arterial inflammation: Arterial inflammation may be linked to gum disease; studies show that those with severe gum disease are more likely to have arterial inflammation. It is believed that the same mechanism that causes inflammation in the gums may also affect the arteries, leading to arterial inflammation.
  • Increased risk of stroke: Studies suggest that those with higher levels of bacteria within the body, as seen in those with severe gum disease, are at increased risk of stroke.
  • Coronary artery disease and heart attack: Increased incidence of coronary artery disease, a buildup of plaque or arterial inflammation within the arteries feeding the heart, has also been linked to severe gum disease. Coronary artery disease is dangerous to heart health, often leading to a heart attack.

Protect Your Smile and Heart with These Dental Care Tips

A healthy heart requires good lifestyle choices, like regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and sticking to heart-healthy foods that are low in saturated fat and high in fiber. Given the link between gum disease and the increased risk of heart issues, dental care may be just as important to heart health as your lifestyle choices. Follow these dental care tips to keep your smile healthy and reduce the risk of heart issues that may be linked to gum disease.

  • Practice proper oral hygiene: Practicing proper dental care daily is essential for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. Proper oral hygiene habits include brushing for a full two minutes twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Flossing is particularly important because brushing alone is not effective in preventing gum disease.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash to further reduce the risk of gum disease: Rinsing the mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can further reduce the risk of gum disease.
  • Schedule dental visits every six months: Seeing your dentist every six month for an exam and cleaning can help prevent dental damage before it happens, catch it before it becomes severe, and reduce the risk of gum disease.

Schedule a Consultation

For more dental care tips, or to find out which treatments are right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with our team at Smile Solutions by Emmi Dental Associates.