Say cheese! Oh, you haven’t been flossing? In that case, say heart disease!
Poor oral hygiene leads to more than cavities. Your mouth is the gateway to your body. This means serious health problems result from poor dental care.
Keep every part of your body, from your pearly whites to your beating heart, in tip-top shape with proper dental care. Understand the relationship between your teeth and heart health to prevent a medical emergency.
The Relationship Between Your Teeth and Heart Health
Plaque buildup and harmful bacteria make their way from your mouth to your heart via your bloodstream. This leads to widespread inflammation, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
If your mouth has harmful bacteria, it’s going to spread to other areas of your body. For your heart, plaque increases your risk of atherosclerosis and endocarditis.
Gingivitis and Atherosclerosis
Gingivitis is inflamed gums. It makes your gums look red and swollen. They may also bleed when you brush your teeth.
Gum diseases are due to plaque buildup. Plaque is bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth. It’s removed when you brush your teeth.
If plaque builds up, it infects your gums and causes gingivitis. The plaque spreads throughout your body and creates widespread inflammation.
If your gum disease reaches an advanced stage, your risk of atherosclerosis (blocked arteries) increases.
Your body relies on arteries to carry oxygen-rich blood to different parts, especially your heart. When plaque builds up in your mouth, it spreads to your arteries. The plaque limits blood flow to your organs, causing atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a serious concern. It can affect any artery in your body, but most commonly affects your heart. If left untreated, atherosclerosis can lead to a heart attack.
The next time you want to skip brushing your teeth before bed, remember how harmful long-term plaque buildup is to your heart.
Bacteria Buildup and Endocarditis
When bacteria builds up in your mouth, it multiplies and spreads. The more plaque in your mouth, the more likely it will enter your bloodstream. Once the bacteria is in your blood, it will make its way to your heart.
The plaque sticks to your heart’s inner lining and valves. It creates pockets of bacteria and blood clots. This is called endocarditis.
Endocarditis is rare but serious. It causes life-threatening inflammation in your heart muscles. It causes chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and extreme fatigue.
Heart Disease Symptoms in Your Oral Health
Poor dental hygiene doesn’t only hurt your hurt. Doctors have detected signs of poor cardiovascular health showing through a patient’s mouth. If you have gum disease or mouth troubles, your dentist may encourage you to get your heart checked out.
Oral heart disease symptoms include:
- Periodontitis (gum disease)
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Pain while chewing
- Frequent bleeding
The link between gum disease and heart issues is strong. Keeping an eye on your oral wellbeing may lead to early diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular problems.
Prevent Plaque Buildup
It seems like a lot of heart problems are caused by plaque, so how can you stop plaque altogether? It’s completely preventable as long as you maintain proper oral hygiene habits.
Floss, Floss, Floss!
You should floss every single day. Unfortunately, not many people do. In fact, 20% of Americans never floss.
Thorough flossing removes food particles in between your teeth. Your toothbrush might not be able to reach those areas, which is why you need to floss. Without brushing those particles away, they turn into plaque.
For better dental hygiene, floss when you wake up and before you hit the hay. You should hold your floss tightly between your thumb and index finger. If you’re new to flossing, be extra gentle.
Brush Twice a Day
The next step to a healthier mouth is improving how you brush your teeth. Over 30% of Americans don’t brush their teeth long or hard enough. If that’s not alarming enough, 23% of Americans have gone two or more days without brushing at all.
To prevent gum and heart disease, brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Gently scrub your pearly whites using an ADA-accepted toothpaste.
Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Older toothbrushes become frayed and don’t scrub your teeth as well. They are also more prone to housing bacteria within their bristles.
Take Care of Your Retainer
Clean retainers not only look better, but they work better. Dirty retainers can lead to bacteria buildup that makes its way to your heart.
Retainers are designed to help your oral hygiene, not hurt it! You can read more about keeping up with proper retainer care with Typodont here.
Swap out sugary and sticky snacks with healthy ones. Sugary foods stick to your chompers to form plaque.
Try incorporating these mouth-friendly foods into your diet:
- Cheese: calcium and protein strengthen enamel
- Yogurt: contains probiotics, which are healthy bacteria
- Leafy greens: loaded with vitamin B to prevent gum disease
- Apples: filled with fiber and water for cleaner teeth
- Carrots: increase your saliva production to reduce cavities
- Celery: acts as a natural toothbrush
Cut back on unhealthy habits like high caffeine consumption and smoking. Coffee and tea are acidic and wreak havoc on your pearly whites. Smoking damages your gums and raises your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Visit Your Dentist
To keep your mouth as healthy as can be, visit your dentist twice a year. Unfortunately, 42% of Americans don’t see their dentist enough.
A dental trip allows for routine cleanings and checkups to ensure your oral and cardiovascular health is a-ok. Your dentist can also perform x-rays to screen for gum disease and tooth decay.
When’s the last time you visited your dentist? If you can’t remember, then it’s time for a checkup!
Boost Your Overall Health
After learning about the links between your teeth and heart health, you should be itching to adopt healthier habits.
Whether it be boosting your oral hygiene or losing those extra pounds, check out our health and wellness blogs to get inspired. We’re here to help you live a healthier life!
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