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Healthy Teeth, Happy Heart—the links between cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease.

While it’s not nice to talk about, it’s no secret that cardiovascular (heart) disease is the most common cause of death worldwide [1]

Pains in the chest, stomach, leg, arm, jaw and back; or nausea, choking sensations, swollen ankles, extreme fatigue and an irregular heartbeat are all standard signs of this disease. If ignored, some or all of these symptoms can culminate in a heart attack or a stroke [2].

If teeth could talk

But what can your dental health tell you about your heart? The answer, is quite a lot. Your mouth has its own warning signs that you may be at risk, and being aware of these could help better steer your decisions.

Perhaps the most obvious link between oral and heart health is diet. A poor diet means that both your dental and your heart health are at considerably more risk. The connection between obesity and dental decay is long established, as is obesity’s direct link to heart disease [3]

If you find yourself being recommended fillings frequently, it may be time to re-consider your dietary choices. It’s also wise to take note of any nutrient advice your dentist or hygienist may have. Ensuring that what you put in your mouth is tooth friendly, is likely to keep it heart friendly as well.

The heart of the problem

While diet is a commonly acknowledged contributor to poor health, more recent studies have shown dental problems to be a risk factor in and of themselves when it comes to heart disease. It’s been discovered that the bacteria found in infected teeth and gums can enter the bloodstream and circulatory system.

These mouth infection bacteria lead to inflammation and arterial plaque build-up. Too much plaque is responsible for the narrowing and clogging of arteries, often leading to heart attack and stroke [4]. This is why conditions such as mouth infections and gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease shouldn’t be downplayed or ignored.

Other heart attack causes

Most people have heard that smoking is linked to heart disease. What many don’t know is that it also contributes to a rise in common oral infections—a double whammy when it comes to heart health [5].

We’re constantly learning more about how the bacteria of the mouth effects the rest of your body and we may still have more connections to discover.

What to do when faced with cardiovascular disease symptoms

It’s important to note, that your mouth is only one indicator of what is a major medical problem. If you are showing acute symptoms of heart disease, your general practitioner (or emergency room) are the first points of contact. But don’t forget that your mouth can tell the story too—it can be the canary in the coal-mine—a prequel to the main act.

The ease of gum dis-ease

A false sense of complacency accompanies early stage gum disease as it’s often not painful, so many people don’t consider checking in for a dental visit. However, if you’re experiencing any symptoms such as bleeding while brushing; sore, receding or swollen gums; painful chewing; loose or sensitive teeth; or persistent bad breath—it may be the very real trigger for you to book a dental visit.

The good news is that when caught in advance, these conditions can be reversible with proper treatment and lifestyle changes. Regular preventative visits with the Cole team are the best way to ensure these problems are identified early and don’t escalate.

Heart to heart

When your mouth feels fine we know it can be easy to let dental appointments slip. If it’s been a while and you’re embarrassed, know that we never judge and no question is too crazy for us. Our mission is to help you learn the best way to achieve a healthy smile and heart—along with quality of life—for life!

References:

http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death

https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine/medical/11-signs-you-might-have-heart-disease

https://www.dhsv.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/2515/links-between-oral-health-and-general-health-the-case-for-action.pdf

https://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2017/02/the-surprising-link-between-periodontal-disease-and-heart-health-what-dental-professionals-need-to-know.html

https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/smoking-and-your-heart

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