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The Surprising Ways Your Oral Health Can Impact Your Heart Health

You’ve probably heard what can happen to your mouth if you don’t practice good oral hygiene—you might have yellow teeth and bad breath, develop cavities and periodontal (gum) disease, and possibly even experience tooth loss. But did you know that there’s also a link between oral health and cardiovascular health? It’s true! Below, we discuss the oral health and heart disease connection and explain what you can do to improve your overall well-being.

How Does Oral Health Impact Heart Health?

Studies have repeatedly shown that individuals with poor oral health tend to have higher rates of cardiovascular problems, but researchers are still trying to determine exactly how those two issues are connected. Many experts believe that bacteria in the mouth—for example, the ones that cause gum disease—can travel through the bloodstream to blood vessels in other parts of the body, causing the blood vessels to become inflamed and increasing the risk of cardiovascular issues such as:

  • Atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries)
  • Blood clots
  • Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s inner lining)
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes

Other specialists believe that when the immune system responds to problems within the mouth, the resulting inflammation can damage the cardiovascular system.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

So, what can you do to protect your heart? To improve your oral health and thereby lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, you should:

  • Follow an at-home oral care routine – The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice and flossing once each day.
  • Keep up with regular dental visits – Many dentists recommend attending professional cleanings twice each year, but some patients require more frequent checkups. During these visits, dentists thoroughly clean patients’ teeth and check for signs of issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer.  
  • Avoid smoking – Not only does smoking cause plaque buildup on the teeth and increase the risk of developing gum disease and oral cancer, but it also clogs the coronary arteries and makes it more difficult for blood to flow through the body.

Eating a nutritious diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, and managing stress can also reduce your risk of heart disease. Heart-healthy diets are often low in sodium, sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, alcohol, highly refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods.

Get the Dental Care You Need

Now that you know about the link between oral health and heart health, you’re probably more concerned than ever about taking care of your teeth and gums. Smiles by Stylos Dental Health & Sleep Center can help you do exactly that. Based in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, we’re a trusted dentistry practice that’s been serving the Greater Merrimack Valley since 1987. We offer a wide range of general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and sleep services, and we’d love to help you take the next step forward with improving your oral health and overall well-being. We’re open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., so contact us today to schedule an appointment at a date and time that’s convenient for you.

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