Many adults are interested in finding ways to support a healthy heart as they traverse their aging process. To do so means to eat well and exercise regularly in a way that suits individual preferences. It also means to take really good care of teeth and gums. Several research studies have made the correlation between poor oral health and heart problems. This may sound like bad news, but it’s not. Understanding that oral health affects the heart, we have one more way to sustain optimal wellness!
The Connection: Where and What?
It may be enough for some people to know that the mouth affects the heart, and that’s that. However, we’re going to take a look at this connection a little more closely for those who like details.
What research has discovered is that there are millions of microorganisms that live in the mouth. Living critters that we often call oral bacteria. It is bacterium that cause inflammation in the gums and cavities in teeth. When they get out of control, they can enter the blood through any opening in tissue, of which there are many. Bacteria are swallowed. Some may be inhaled. Others head straight into the blood, and where does that go? To the heart.
Once bacteria from the mouth flow along with the blood and reach the heart, they can adhere to the tissue in this organ, where inflammation may result in:
- Heart attack. Severe gum disease is a major risk factor for heart attacks. The direct cause in many cases is cardiovascular disease . . .
- Cardiovascular disease. This heart condition occurs when the arteries that carry blood narrow. The reason that narrowing often occurs is plaque buildup. Another reason is inflammation. This inflammation may originate with or be exacerbated by the bacteria that have traveled from the mouth to the walls of arteries.
- Endocarditis. This condition is actual infection in the endocardium tissue that lines the inner chambers and valves of the heart. This infection is caused by bacteria and has been directly related to the same bacterium that live in the mouth that has been infected with gum disease. Endocarditis may be treatable, but it can also permanently damage the valves of the heart, inhibiting adequate blood circulation.
Brilliant Smile, Happy Heart
Taking good care of your teeth is easy. That is something to smile about. When teeth and gums are healthy, they look better. More reason to smile! Perhaps the best advantage of good oral health is the marked decrease in the risk of potentially serious heart problems.
If you’ve got questions about what your teeth and gums really need to stay healthy, call our Grayslake office. We’re happy to schedule an exam and cleaning to jump start your forward progress.