Gum Disease and Heart Disease: The Connection

Gum disease and heart desease

Table of Contents

Gum disease and heart disease are connected through the buildup of plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth and contains bacteria that can cause gum disease. Plaque on your teeth could also be connected to plaque in your arteries, which can lead to heart disease.

In this article, we will explore the connection between gum disease and heart disease and the importance of proper oral hygiene in preventing both dental problems.

Plaque on Your Teeth and Plaque in Your Arteries

Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Plaque is a buildup of bacteria, food particles, and saliva that forms on your teeth. Over time, if not removed by proper brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist. When plaque and tartar are left on your teeth, they can cause inflammation and infection in your gums, leading to dental problems like gum disease.

Inflammation in your gums can also spread to other parts of your body, including your heart. Studies have shown that people with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease than those with healthy gums. This is because the same bacteria that cause gum disease can also contribute to the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

Plaque in your arteries is similar to plaque on your teeth in that it is a buildup of substances, including fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other materials, that can clog and narrow your arteries over time. This buildup is called atherosclerosis and can lead to serious health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. 

Read more: Periodontitis (Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease)

The Inflammation Link

Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Inflammation is the body’s response to infection or injury, and it is a normal part of the healing process. However, when inflammation is chronic and systemic, it can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease.

Research has shown that the bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease can trigger inflammation in your body. When this happens, your immune system responds by producing chemicals that can travel throughout your body, including your arteries. These chemicals can cause inflammation in the walls of your arteries and can contribute to the formation of plaque. Over time, plaque buildup can lead to narrowing and hardening of your arteries, which can increase your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.  This can lead to the buildup of plaque in your arteries, which can increase your risk of heart disease.

The Studies Reveal More

Gum Disease and Heart Disease
Gum Disease and Heart Disease

There have been several studies conducted to investigate the link between gum disease and heart disease. One such study was published in the Journal of Periodontology and involved analyzing data from over 1,100 participants. The researchers found that people with gum disease were twice as likely to develop heart disease as those with healthy gums. This study controlled for other risk factors such as age, gender, smoking, and diabetes.

Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine involved over 1,000 participants who had suffered a heart attack. The researchers found that people with gum disease had a higher risk of having a second heart attack than those with healthy gums.

Poor oral health has been linked to more than just cardiovascular disease. Studies have also found connections between periodontal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even pancreatic cancer. However, it’s important to note that these are associations, not necessarily causal relationships, and more research is needed to fully understand the importance of these observations.

Regardless, maintaining good oral health through regular dental care, not smoking, and proper hygiene habits can help you keep your teeth healthy. While the benefits beyond that are still being studied, it’s a good idea to prioritize your oral health for its potential overall health benefits. So, keep brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly while we wait for more information on this topic.

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Careful Teeth Brushing and Regular Dental Check: Essential Step to Better Oral Health and Fewer Heart Problems

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for preventing gum disease and reducing your risk of heart disease. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan has found that poor oral health, based on daily teeth brushing behavior, is associated with poorer heart health. The researchers surveyed 682 people about their toothbrushing habits and found that those who brushed less than twice a day for less than two minutes had a three-fold increased risk of poor heart health compared to those who brushed at least twice a day for at least two minutes. The lead researcher, Dr. Shogo Matsui, stated that longer toothbrushing may reduce this risk, but the study did not prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship between toothbrushing and heart health.

In addition to proper oral hygiene, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk of both gum disease and heart disease. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce the risk of gum disease and heart disease. This is because sugary and processed foods can contribute to inflammation in the body, which can increase the risk of these conditions. On the other hand, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides nutrients that can help support oral and overall health.
  • Quitting smoking or never starting in the first place can also help reduce the risk of gum disease and heart disease. Smoking is a major risk factor for both conditions, as it can cause inflammation and damage to the tissues in the mouth and throughout the body. Quitting smoking can help reduce inflammation and improve overall health.
  • Getting regular exercise is another way. Exercise can help reduce inflammation in the body, improve circulation, and support overall health. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight through exercise can help reduce the risk of these conditions.
  • Managing stress levels is also important. Chronic stress can contribute to inflammation in the body, which can increase the risk of these dental problems. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, exercise, or spending time with loved ones, can help support overall health and reduce the risk  of gum disease and heart disease.

By taking these steps, you can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of both gum disease and heart disease.

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