Heart disease is a silent killer that wiped out 46,946 Australians in 2012 (that’s 30% of all deaths that year). Cardiovascular disease was also the leading cause of 523,805 hospitalisations in 2011/12 and played a secondary role in a further 800,000 cases, according to the Heart Foundation. There are a variety of reasons why diseases of the heart occur, but did you know that your oral health is linked to and affects your heart health?
While it may seem strange to consider how the health of the heart is connected to the mouth, at Sydney Holistic Dental Centre, this is what we are all about – the links between your oral and general health. There are a variety of reasons that the heart and mouth are interconnected:
Your mouth is a passageway to numerous types of organisms and bacteria. The Academy of General Dentistry has stated that those who have been dealing with chronic gum health conditions are prone to having a heart attack.
Gingivitis is the term given to gum disease during its premature stages. As this disease progresses, it evolves into a periodontal disease mainly caused by plaque build-up.
Studies suggest that there is a considerable possibility that poor gum health is one factor for poor heart health due to the findings that bacteria derived from the infected gums can be dislodged, after which it goes down to the bloodstream and attach themselves to the blood vessels. The outcome? Increased clot formation.
Inflammatory conditions due to poor gum health are another sinister reason that can trigger the increased formation of clots in the bloodstream.
Once increased, clots cause blockages, resulting in decreased blood flow to different parts of the body and, essentially, to the heart.
Elevated blood pressure is one of the main symptoms of heart disease.
Some basic risk factors for gum disease are diabetes, smoking, poor nutrition, and gender (being male).
Gum disease, known as periodontitis, is linked to dental issues such as bad breath, bleeding gums, and tooth loss. A study suggests it may also be connected to heart problems, specifically atrial fibrosis. Researchers discovered a significant relationship between periodontitis and atrial fibrosis in 76 patients with heart disease.
As reported in Science Daily, researchers at Hiroshima University have recently discovered that this common oral issue might be connected to more severe health problems, specifically related to the heart.
In a study published in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, the researchers found a significant connection between periodontitis and atrial fibrosis, a type of scarring in the heart’s left atrium. This scarring can lead to an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation.
Although the study provides evidence that inflammation around the teeth could be a new factor that can be modified for atrial fibrillation, Yukiko Nakano, the corresponding author, cautions that it doesn’t prove a direct causal link between the two. More research is needed to establish whether treating poor dental health can effectively alter the severity of atrial fibrosis.
“Further evidence is required for establishing that poor oral health contributes to the atrial fibrosis in a causal manner and that periodontal care can alter fibrosis,” Nakano said.
Nakano highlights the potential benefits of including dental care in comprehensive atrial fibrillation management, alongside addressing other risk-related factors like weight, activity levels, and tobacco and alcohol use. Addressing oral health problems could be a cost-effective target for reducing atrial fibrillation risks, benefiting many people worldwide if proven to be a modifiable factor.
“Periodontitis is an easy, modifiable target with lower cost among known atrial fibrillation risk factors. Thus, the achievement of this study series may bring benefits for many people worldwide.”
Did you know that the majority of systemic diseases (more than 90%), which includes heart disease, correlate with oral symptoms? Because of that, dentists can quickly pinpoint heart disease through proper oral examination and checking for any signs of inflammation, pain or infection. The following steps can be made for preventative health through appropriate diagnosis and immediate treatment of poor oral health and tooth infections. How to spot if you have unhealthy gum problems:
The best prevention is battling it out on its core, where it started – in your mouth. Here are some simple ways to prevent gum disease, thus preventing systemic diseases like heart disease.
Yes, bad teeth and poor health in the mouth have been linked to an increased risk of cardiac problems. This is because the bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in other parts of the body, including the heart.
Poor dental health, especially gum disease, can lead to inflammation in the body, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. The bacteria from gum disease can also enter the blood vessels and cause plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to blockages and increasing the possibility of heart attack and stroke.
While more research is needed, studies have suggested that periodontal treatment, such as scaling and root planing or gum surgery, can help improve heart health by reducing inflammation and bacteria in the mouth. However, it is important to note that periodontal treatment alone is not a substitute for proper heart health management, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise.
In some cases, yes. Some studies have found that specific oral symptoms, such as gum disease, tooth loss, and oral infections, can be linked to an increased risk of heart disease. However, these symptoms alone are not enough to determine your risk for heart disease and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Yes, it is true that many systemic diseases, including heart disease, have been linked to oral symptoms, such as gum problems, oral infections, and tooth loss. This is because the mouth is a window into the health of the rest of the body, and many diseases and conditions can show symptoms in the mouth.
Delaying or avoiding dental visits can lead to untreated oral health problems, increasing heart disease risk and other health problems. Maintaining regular dental visits and good oral hygiene habits is vital to keep your mouth and body healthy.
A disease of the gums can lead to inflammation in the body, which can affect other systems and organs. Research has linked gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems.
Gum disease can contribute to the development of heart disease by causing inflammation and bacterial buildup in the arteries. This can lead to plaque buildup and blockages, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Additionally, the bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and affect the heart and other organs.