The Importance of Dental Care for Heart Health

May 17, 2016 @ 09:00 AM — by belldental

A mature man and woman with healthy looking smilesWe all know good dental care is important for maintaining a healthy smile, but it may come as a surprise that it may also play a role in heart health. If you suffer from oral health issues, it's important to seek treatment right away, as your overall health may be at risk. Restorative dentistry treatments are available to repair dental damage and restore oral health for improved dental function as well as quality of life. To discuss your treatment options, or for more information about dental care and heart health, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Lake Jackson, TX dentists Brian K. Bell and Justin J. Crocker.

The Link between Oral Health and Heart Health

Oral health is intrinsically linked to general health, and this includes heart health. Studies suggest a link between the severity of oral infections, specifically gum disease, and the increased likelihood of heart problems, including:

  • Bacterial infections within the heart: Oral bacterial infections may travel to the heart through the bloodstream, resulting in a condition called endocarditis. Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the endocardium tissue of the heart. This is the tissue that lines the inside of the heart and the valves. Endocarditis can cause permanent damage to the valves, impairing the heart's ability to pump and circulate blood.
  • Arterial inflammation: Gum disease causes inflammation of the gums, which may also increase the risk of arterial inflammation as studies indicate those with severe gum disease are also more likely to suffer from arterial inflammation.
  • Increased risk of stroke: Increased incidence of stroke has been linked to higher levels of bacteria within the body, as seen with severe gum disease.
  • Coronary artery disease and heart attack: Severe gum disease has also been linked to coronary artery disease, which is a buildup of plaque or arterial wall inflammation in the arteries supplying blood to the heart. Once the coronary arteries become blocked, a heart attack may occur. 

Dental Care Tips to Stay Healthy

Of course, proper oral care alone is not enough to guarantee a healthy heart. It's also important to get regular exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and eat a heart-healthy diet to keep your heart at its best. However, proper dental care can help prevent gum disease and other oral health problems that may increase the risk of heart health issues. Follow these dental care tips to protect your health.

  • Brush twice a day: The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. When brushing, it's important to brush for a full two minutes, using small strokes, to ensure the teeth are fully cleaned.
  • Floss everyday: Brushing alone can leave plaque and bacteria along the gum line, increasing the risk of gum disease. Flossing everyday, in addition to brushing the teeth, is highly effective at reducing the risk of gum disease.
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash: Using an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing helps reduce bacteria in the mouth, decreasing the risk of gum disease.
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings: Regular exams and professional cleanings are recommended every six months and should be scheduled to catch any signs of an oral health problem, like gum disease, early.

Which Treatments Are Right for You?

To find out which treatments are right for your dental care needs, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bell or Dr. Crocker.

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