Stephanie Clarke | HealthGreatness

Hate going to the dentist?  Have you been putting it off, thinking it’s just my teeth? You might believe that if your teeth don’t get the proper care you will only have to deal with a cavity or the loss of your tooth.  What’s so bad about that?   You may want to rethink that way of thinking.  Your dental health can have a direct link to cardiovascular disease.

I love to brush my teeth

The link between bacteria and cardiovascular disease

Experts have long debated about the link between dental health and cardiovascular disease.  Although it is true that people who have bad dental health tend to have more heart attacks, is there any actual proof or is it just that people who take care of their teeth probably take care of other areas of their health too?  One area that makes perfect sense is that there are many kinds of bacteria in the mouth.

  • Your mouth is moist and warm, a perfect breeding place for bacteria.  If you have periodontics, gum disease, or a cavity, the bacteria can travel within your body to other organs.  Obviously, one of these organs is the heart.
  • There are medications you might take like decongestants, painkillers, diuretics and antihistamines that reduce the saliva in the mouth.  Saliva helps neutralize acid that is made by bacteria, thus helping to prevent disease.
  •  Endocarditis is the infection of the inner lining of the heart.  This disease is caused by bacteria spread through your bloodstream.  You guessed it; it could come from your mouth.

Signs and symptoms of inflammation

It is also true that both periodontics and cardiovascular diseases have a common thread of inflammation. You know when your gums are inflamed. There is redness, swelling and pain.  Inflammation of the arteries, or clogged arteries are a more stealthy danger. You don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late.  Sometimes heart attacks and strokes are the only indication you may have of cardiovascular disease.  At this point it may be too late.

The connection between joint replacement, dental work and cardiovascular disease

Ever have a joint replaced? Maybe you know someone who has.  Those who have had knees replaced or hips replaced have to be put on an antibiotic prior to a visit to the dentist.  This is to kill bacteria, so when the dental work is performed, the bacteria will not enter the bloodstream damaging the heart or other organs.  At one time it was believed that antibiotics only had to be taken before a dental visit for a period of two or three years.  Now it is being reevaluated and the thought is that those with joint replacement will have to follow this regime for life.

What can you do to minimize the risk?

As you can see, there is a direct link between how you care for your teeth and gums and cardiovascular diseases. It’s easy to protect yourself from the threat of bacteria entering your bloodstream via your mouth.

  • Minimize the threat by brushing and flossing daily.
  • Limit your diet to healthy foods and less sugary treats.
  • Change your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Make regular dental appointments.

Following this advice will help prevent your mouth from being your demise.  Your heart will be happier and healthier.

teeth collage of people smiles