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Heart Disease and Oral Health Are Connected

Research has suggested that heart disease and oral health can be linked in two different ways:

I. Gum illness can contribute to heart disease

II. Oral symptoms can indicate heart problems.

Signs and symptoms of gum disease

  • Tender, swollen and red gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Receding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
  • Loose or separating teeth

Gum disease can contribute to heart disease

With the mouth being the gateway to our bodies, it has been suggested that gum disease can pose a risk for heart conditions. Medical studies have indicated that inflammation caused by gum disease and the bacteria associated with this condition can get into our bloodstreams.  Due to this, they attach to our blood vessels, increasing the formation of blood clots. Blood clotting or thrombosis, can result in decreased blood flow to the heart, leading to elevated blood pressure, which in turn causes an increased risk of a heart attack.  Here is more on how gum disease can lead to heart disease.

Gum and heart disease risk factors

While it is a challenging task to establish whether gum disease causes heart disease and vice versa, the risk factors for these conditions are the same. These risk factors include:

  1. Diabetes
  2. Smoking
  3. Poor nutrition
  4. Being male
  5. Oral symptoms can indicate heart disease

Medical research has indicated that over 90% of all systemic conditions, among which heart disease, present themselves through oral signs and symptoms. Additionally to this, examination by dental practitioners can help those with a history of heart disease by establishing any signs and symptoms of infection, inflammation or oral pain. This diagnostic technique and resultant treatment methods of these oral conditions in patients with a history of heart disease have resulted in overall health improvement as well as a decreased need for medication for high blood pressure.

Prevention is the best cure

Although medical research indicates that there could be a link between gum disease and heart disease, these studies are still inconclusive and additional research needs to be done before the relationship between the two conditions can be confirmed. While it has also not been proven that treatment for one of the conditions will automatically help in the management of the other; it is clear that impeccable oral hygiene as well as regular dental checks can improve oral health, which in turn has a positive impact on our general health. Things we can do to ensure optimal oral health:

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins A and C
  • Stop smoking
  • Brush teeth twice a day and brush along the gum line
  • Floss daily
  • Use a mouth rinse

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