The connection between your heart and your mouth
Many of us have experienced moments where we’ve felt like our heart is in our mouth, but did you know there is actually a link between the two?
Heart disease which includes blocked arteries, heart attack, angina and stroke is a primary cause of disability or death in the developed world. It’s well known that heart disease has been connected to risk factors such as smoking, poor diet, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and inactivity, but research now shows that people with periodontal (gum) disease have an increased risk of developing heart disease, especially if left unchecked and untreated. The same bacteria and toxins that cause gum disease in the mouth have been found in fatty deposits within clogged arteries.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease can sometimes be difficult to detect unless your dentist notices the warning signs, so regular dental checks to monitor any dental health changes and detect and treat gum disease in its early stages is valuable. Be sure to see your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Red, irritated and swollen gums, that may, or appear to be pulling away from the teeth, with pockets forming between your teeth and gums.
- Unsteady teeth with gaps forming in-between your teeth.
- Bleeding when you brush, floss, spit and rinse.
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth and/or you have bad breath.
- Pus and/or blood around your gums and on your teeth.
How can I care for my gums and heart?
There are many things you and your dentist can do to reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic health conditions:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled brush which reaches all tooth surfaces and chat with your dentist about the advantages of using an electric toothbrush. For some people this is a better option than a manual toothbrush.
- Because half of your teeth’s surface area lies between your teeth, make sure you floss both your teeth and gums daily for at least two minutes. Interdental brushes can support flossing and remove bacteria which can be transmitted to the heart.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride as it helps to preserve the hard, protective enamel tooth coating.
- A healthy diet which is low in sugar and carbohydrates can support your dental health. Avoid snacking between meals and drink water instead of sugary drinks. A diet low in saturated fats will also support your heart health.
- It’s recommended to see your dentist every six months or more frequently if you’ve been advised to.
Your dental health can be an indication of the rest of your body’s health and has a direct impact on your overall health. So, be sure to book an appointment with your dentist for a thorough examination of your mouth.