Heart Disease and Oral Health

person holding a heart-shaped card with a heartbeat symbol

Heart Disease and Oral Health

Did you know February is American Heart Month? It makes sense, since we also celebrate Valentine’s Day in February. But you may be wondering what this has to do dentistry. The answer? Your oral health actually plays a key role in your overall wellness, including heart health. As part of your trusted healthcare team, our practitioners at Hicks Dental Group in Prescott want to keep you as healthy as possible. And since it is American Heart Month, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to talk about heart disease and oral health.

The Link Between Heart Disease and Oral Health

What does heart health have to do with dentistry? A lot, actually. Gum disease (periodontitis) is associated with an increased risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Scientific research hasn’t concluded exactly why this link exists, but it does show a direct correlation. Scientists believe that inflammation associated with gum disease may be responsible for the connection.

Bacteria from your mouth can spread to other parts of your body, including your heart. These bacteria attach to damaged areas of the heart, causing inflammation. This can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria, according to the American Heart Association. The bacteria can also migrate into your bloodstream causing elevated C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. This can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Who is at Risk?

Patients with chronic gum conditions such as gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease have the highest risk for heart disease caused by poor oral health. This is especially true if it remains undiagnosed and untreated. Even if you don’t have noticeable gum inflammation, a buildup of plaque caused by poor oral hygiene increases the risk for gum disease.

How Can I Protect my Heart Health?

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Maintain your regular checkups with Hicks Dental Group
  • Avoid tobacco use

The good news is, you can reduce the chance of developing dental decay, gum inflammation and oral infections by taking good care of your teeth and gums. Being proactive about your dental health can help protect you from the connection between heart disease and oral health. At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, not only do we want you to have a beautiful smile, we also want you to live a long and healthy life! So let us help take care of you: schedule your biannual checkups and cleanings with our office.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/19/2019) Pixaby