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The Surprising Link Between Oral Health and Cardiovascular Disease


Mar 29, 2023
Oral Health and Cardiovascular Disease

It’s well known that good oral hygiene can help prevent bad bacteria from causing dental problems, but what you may not know is that your mouth also has an effect on your heart health.

Researchers at the UIC College of Dentistry have shown that gum disease causes inflammation in your body that can lead to heart problems.

This is important because it’s thought that inflammation can precede heart attacks and strokes.

1. Bacteria in the Mouth

Your mouth is home to hundreds of species of microbes. These bacteria help your body digest food, freshen your breath and protect against harmful germs in your food.

However, some bacteria in your mouth can cause dental problems like gingivitis and bad breath if they are not kept in check with proper oral hygiene. Thankfully, good bacteria also play an important role in your health and wellness.

Specifically, your mouth contains a community of bacterial types that are able to ferment the sugars and starches you eat. They produce weak acids that corrode teeth and can lead to tooth decay.

Fortunately, scientists are learning more about the mouth microbiome and how it affects human health. This information can one day be used to find better ways to prevent and treat diseases and conditions.

2. Poor Oral Hygiene

Many people don’t understand the impact that poor oral hygiene can have on their health. They think that brushing and flossing are purely about their teeth, but it’s much more than that.

The bacteria that’s in your mouth can affect your cardiovascular health, including the arteries that send blood to your heart and brain. If your arteries are clogged, the blood can’t flow properly, increasing your risk of heart disease or stroke.

This is why it’s important to make sure that you brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth and gums healthy. In addition, don’t forget to visit your dentist for check-ups and cleanings.

Studies have shown that men were 1.6 times more likely to practice poor oral hygiene than women, while patients living in rural areas were 3.8 times more likely to do so. The odds of having poor oral hygiene practice were 2.4 times higher among patients who had bad knowledge about oral hygiene than those who had good knowledge.

3. Gum Disease

It’s a surprising link: The bacteria found in gum disease, called periodontal disease, may contribute to heart problems. Research shows that periodontal disease bacteria can affect the way plaque forms in the arteries and lead to inflammation and artery damage.

The bacteria in plaque can also attach to the inner lining of heart valves, resulting in endocarditis. This is a serious and life-threatening infection that can cause heart failure.

There’s another surprising connection between oral health and cardiovascular disease: Poor gum health has been linked to higher rates of heart disease.

According to researchers, the risk of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem was two to three times higher in people who had gum disease than in those with healthy gums.

This link between gum disease and heart problems is an important one, so it’s important to take care of your oral health as well as your other heart health measures. By avoiding smoking and other bad habits, eating a healthy diet, and keeping up with regular dental visits, you can keep your mouth and heart in tip-top shape.

4. Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious health condition that affects the way the body uses insulin. When it’s not controlled, blood sugar levels can increase and damage the heart and other parts of the body.

This can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and heart disease or stroke. It also increases the risk of developing kidney disease (commonly called chronic kidney disease, or CKD).

The kidneys help filter blood. When they are damaged by diabetes, they can’t filter enough blood.

High blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control the heart and blood vessels, which can cause numbness in the legs, shortness of breath or pain in one or both legs. This can lead to heart failure, a medical emergency that causes the heart to fail to pump blood as it should.

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