Why Your Dentist is Important to Your Heart
Created on January 15, 2018
Our patients are near and dear to our hearts. We love knowing that we can support long-term oral health by providing routine care. We love knowing that the care and support that is provided in the dental office can go on to promote better health and wellness. In fact, research suggests that routine dental visits are integral to maintaining not only the teeth but the heart.
Oral Health and Your Heart
People today are doing a lot to sidestep health issues like heart disease. The risk for potentially serious conditions can be reduced with healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Regular exercise and avoiding too much salt are examples. Managing stress is another. But the smile? It is easy to miss the correlation between the mouth and the heart outside of the normal “eat well” recommendations. Luckily, we have research data to show us the connection between these two parts of the body.
What studies have found is that there is evidence of bacteria in the hearts of people with particular conditions, like cardiovascular disease. Upon further investigation, researchers have also discovered the type of bacterium in the unhealthy heart. Interestingly enough, they are the same type of bacteria that are present in the mouth. What is surmised is that the microorganisms that live on teeth and around gums create openings that grant access to the bloodstream. Once there, these tiny creatures can go pretty much where they want, including to the heart.
Consequences of Bacterial Invasion
We call the presence of bacteria in the heart an invasion because it’s not a good thing. When bacteria reach this area, they can instigate:
- Arterial sclerosis. Narrowing of the arteries is a major factor in cardiovascular disease. It is in the arteries that have become clogged that researchers have found that evidence we mentioned of bacteria. As arteries gradually close, risks of coinciding events increase.
- Heart attack and stroke. Arterial sclerosis is an indication of cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. At the heart of all of this is bacteria. Therefore, experts have named oral disease as a risk factor in these two potentially serious events.
- An inflammatory condition that affects the lining of the heart, endocarditis is an infection that may result from bacteria.
If you’re interested in ways to protect your heart as you age, stay in touch with your dentist for routine cleanings and checkups. For a visit to our Springfield office, call (413) 781-7645.