You might never realize how your oral hygiene and heart are associated. Countless bacteria are present in your oral cavity. Many of these are good bacteria that do not cause any harm to your health. But various bacteria that are present in your mouth because of poor oral hygiene can put you at higher risk of getting heart disease. It is one of the most surprising observations from recent years, that poor oral hygiene can lead to various systemic diseases including cardiovascular diseases/heart disease. Heart disease is a vast term and covers various cardiovascular diseases linked with valves, vessels, muscles, and heartbeat. Recent studies linked periodontal diseases or gum diseases with increased risks of heart disease in elderly people. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the major causes of death globally accounted about 30% of total deaths.
When you are suffering from gum diseases due to poor oral hygiene bacteria that are present in gums can travel to your bloodstream and your body. These bacteria trigger inflammation of heart vessels, irregular heartbeat, infection in heart valves, tiny blood clots, and heart attacks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately half of the people aged 30 and seventy percent of those 65 or older have gum disease.
Inflammation of the Heart’s Blood Vessels
Inflammation of the heart’s blood vessels due to gum diseases can precede heart attacks and strokes. People suffering from gum diseases have a two-fold high risk of getting cardiovascular diseases as compared to people having no gum disease. Inflammation of vessels by gum diseases speeds up the process in people who are suffering from heart disease related to blood vessels. The risk is higher in people having high blood cholesterol. Researchers have found oral bacteria in the fat deposits of people suffering from atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries. Untreated deposits can block the arteries and clog them causing a heart attack or stroke.
Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart, some people are at higher risk of developing it. Such people need extra care for their oral hygiene and need to follow good oral hygiene practices regularly. These people were even advised to take antibiotics before dental procedures as a preventive measure. Streptococci and staphylococci are the major cause of most cases of infective endocarditis.
Infection in Valves of Heart
When you are having gum disease, the bacteria in your mouth can travel from your mouth to the bloodstream and to the heart. These bacteria can cause infections in heart valves. People who have undergone heart surgeries and have artificial heart valves are more vulnerable to this infection. If the infection has reached the heart valve and damaged it, this needs to be cured separately and, in some cases, the valve may be replaced.
Following are some early signs which can be self-examined before infection can prevail to advance stages:
- Persistent bad breath and bad taste
- Red, swollen, or bruised gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Bleeding gums while eating hard food
- Loose or separating teeth
- Signs of infections around teeth and gums
Preventing Gum Diseases to save your Heart
Poor oral health can affect body functioning including heart, sleep, digestion, brain, and immune system. Practicing good oral hygiene can straightforwardly reduce the chances of gum disease no matter you have heart disease or not.
- Effective brushing and flossing twice a day
- Recommended to use soft bristles toothbrushes
- Regular dental checkups are very crucial
A healthy mouth and a regimen to keep bacteria away can help you to keep your teeth and heart healthy.
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