The Mouth-Heart Connection: How Your Oral Health May Affect Your Cardiovascular Health

More and more studies in the field of dentistry and periodontology have been published on the possible link between oral health and overall health, including cardiovascular health.May is National Blood Pressure Month, and we feel it’s important to provide our patients with a brief overview of the possible links, the controversy and what you can do to help safeguard your health.

The Controversy

The debate on whether a link exists between oral health and cardiovascular health has raged for years. Many studies have found evidence of a possible link between the two. Yet others have found no evidence at all. Some scientists believe the results only prove that individuals who take better care of their teeth have a greater possibility of taking care of their overall health as well, but there is no further link, causal or otherwise, between the two.

The Suspected Link

Over the past few years, more and more research has been done on the possible links between oral disease and diseases of the body like cardiovascular disease. No conclusive proof has been found, but study trends have shown:
  • Inflammation in the gums may be an indicator of cardiovascular inflammation
  • Bacteria may cause receptors in your blood to trigger cardiovascular inflammation
  • Bacteria from your mouth may find its way into your blood stream and cause infections within your cardiovascular system
  • The plaque that collects on your teeth that can lead to gum disease may be the same plaque that can build up and harden in your arteries, leading to greater risk of stroke and heart attack
The Journal of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology[1] simultaneously published a joint review of more than 120 medical studies. Researchers found that gum disease exists as a risk factor for diseases of the cardiovascular system, including those that feed oxygen to the brain, whether or not an actual causal link has been found. So while proof is far from conclusive, many studies have found evidence that poor oral health and poor cardiovascular health can be tied together in some situations and in some ways.

What You Can Do

While the connection between oral and cardiovascular health isn’t conclusive, it’s always a good idea to maintain the best oral health possible. Here are a few ways to do so:

Continue to brush, floss and visit your dentist regularly. This will go a long way toward maintaining good oral health.

Give your dentist a complete list of your medical history, medications, health conditions and the numbers of your doctors. This will help your dentist determine the best treatment plan for you, including medication and procedures, and enable the dentist to contact your doctor for any needed information.

Talk with your dentist about any fears you may have about a procedure or your dental health. He will work with you to go over treatment options and answer any questions you may have.

It’s also important to find an experienced Albuquerque dentist who you can trust and who will understand the best treatments to use in your case. Trust and knowledge are important when it comes to your dental health and your overall health!Se habla Español.

[1] Source: WebMD.com, Healthy Teeth, Healthy Heart?, September 25, 2009.

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