Understanding the Relationship Between Heart Disease & Oral Health

December 4, 2019 in Dentistry by mccarl_dental
Doctor holding a heart

For decades, the link between poor oral health and heart disease has been a subject of extensive research. While even the most recent research is still inconclusive, there are some indications that maintaining your oral health could decrease risk of heart disease. In this blog, we take a closer look at how poor oral health may indicate risk for heart disease and discuss some of the warning signs your dentist may see when they look at your smile.

The Link Between Oral & Overall Health

Research is still needed to fully understand the connection between oral health and whole body health concerns like heart disease. However, as more studies are conducted, the results continue to confirm that poor oral health relates to risk for many systemic conditions. According to a study conducted by Delta Dental, there are two clear links between oral and overall health. The first is bacteria. Those patients who have poor oral hygiene typically have increased numbers of oral bacteria that can cause a number of systemic health concerns. When sores in the mouth allow oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream, the results can be detrimental, including inflammation that contributes to endocarditis (infection in the heart’s lining), or inflammation that may also be present in your arteries which increases risk of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), and stroke.

The second connection between oral and overall health is the role your partnership with a knowledgeable dental professional can play in prevention. During dental exams, the oral health concerns your dentist discovers can help them to understand your risk for other diseases caused by chronic inflammation including heart disease. This information may empower you to take steps toward preventing this condition by improving your oral and overall health. For this reason, we always say that the most important recommendation we have for our dental patients is pretty simple – make healthy lifestyle choices and don’t skimp on your preventive dental care at-home and in our dental office. It may just save your life!

Warning Signs that May Alert Your Dentist to Heart Disease Risk

During your twice a year dental checkups, your dentist should be screening for oral health concerns of all kinds, but it’s important to be aware of how these oral health symptoms relate to your chances of developing systemic conditions like heart disease. Some of the signs that may point to an increased risk for heart disease include:

  • Red, swollen, or irritated gum disease
  • Bleeding gums when eating or performing your daily oral health routine
  • Sores or signs of infection in the gums
  • Gums appear to pull away from teeth
  • Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
  • Teeth are loose, shift out of alignment, or are lost entirely

The Numbers

Some statistics concerning the impact of oral health on cardiovascular health include the following:

  • In a study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology, those who have lost 7 or more teeth showed a 10% increase in heart disease risk compared with those who had all of their natural teeth.
  • An American Heart Association study showed that those who brushed their teeth less than 2 minutes at time twice a day were three times more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease compared with those who did follow the recommended tooth brushing routine.
  • A study from the Department of Periodontics at Kitkarini Dental College revealed that those who had been diagnosed with gum disease were 20% more likely experience heart disease.

Meet the McCarl Dental Group Team

At the McCarl Dental Group in Greenbelt, MD, we have a team of skilled dentists and dental specialists who have served our community for generations. In Greenbelt, MD, the name McCarl means exceptional dental care. Each of our knowledgeable dentists are dedicated to going the extra mile to better understand how to help our patients achieve and maintain healthy smiles and improve their overall health and wellbeing. When you’re ready to work with the McCarl Dental Group, we’re here to help. Reach out to us for more information or to schedule an appointment today.