What Are The Links Between Tooth Decay and Heart Disease?
We all know that our oral health is a vital contributor to our overall health and well-being. In recent years, many studies have shown that people who have poor oral health, such as tooth decay or present gum disease, are at a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular health complications, including heart attacks and strokes, compared to people who have good oral health.
As gum disease and tooth decay display symptoms that some patients may not pick up on, or think are that serious, there are large numbers of dental patients living with these issues undiagnosed, which may then be putting their overall health at increased risk.
At Beyond Dental, we’re passionate about preventing dental issues before they occur, and our preventative dentistry treatments are designed to allow us to take action against issues such as tooth decay and gum disease from occurring in the first place. Let’s take a look at the links between gum disease and tooth decay and heart disease and how you can prevent it.
Why Are These Issues Related?
Oral health and heart disease are connected due to the way in which bacteria spreads from the mouth to other parts of the body via the bloodstream. When bad bacteria reaches the heart, it can attach itself to any areas which are damaged, then causing inflammation. This then results in illnesses such as endocarditis – an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Other cardiovascular conditions, such as blocked arteries and strokes, have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria as a result of tooth decay and gum disease.
Who Is At Risk?
Dental patients who have chronic dental and gum conditions, such as gingivitis and advanced gum disease are at the highest risk of developing heart disease caused by poor oral health, however, patients with gum disease and tooth loss are also at risk of heart disease. Even if you don’t have noticeable signs of gum disease or tooth decay, inadequate oral hygiene and the build-up of plaque can put you at risk.
Signs and Symptoms
It’s important to spot the signs and symptoms of gum disease and tooth decay, even in the earliest stages. If you do spot any of the below and want to arrange a consultation with our dentists or hygienists, please get in touch!
- Gums that are red, swollen or sore
- Bleeding gums when your brush, floss or eat
- There are signs of pus or infections around your gums and teeth
- Your gums look as though they are receding or pulling away from the teeth
- You have bad breath or a frequent bad taste in your mouth
- Some of your teeth are loose or feel unstable
How To Prevent Tooth Decay and Heart Disease
There are some things you can do to prevent gum disease, tooth decay and heart disease. Brushing your teeth, especially after meals, can remove the build-up of food debris and plaque which may be trapped between your teeth and gums. Brushing your tongue can also reduce bacteria in your mouth, too.
Changing your toothbrush regularly, around every 3 months, is also recommended. Keep an eye out for when the bristles begin to bend as this is usually a sign that your toothbrush needs to be replaced. After brushing, look to keep your toothbrush upright and allow it to air dry, which helps to reduce bacteria.
At Beyond, we recommend brushing using an electric toothbrush to get into those hard-to-reach spots, but a manual toothbrush is fine too so long as you are brushing all of the surfaces of your teeth, at least twice a day, for 2 minutes. If you’re not sure how best to brush your teeth, or aren’t sure about a manual or electric toothbrush, let us know when you come in for your appointment and a member of the team can take you to the Brush Stop and show you how best to care for your teeth.
We also suggest that you floss regularly, making sure to use a different part of the floss for each tooth, and use mouthwash to reduce plaque and any remaining food particles that may have been missed during brushing and flossing.
As well as these tips, it’s also important to attend regular dental checkups with your dentist and have frequent dental hygiene appointments to check all is well. At Beyond Dental, we have a fantastic dental subscription plan which, for just £25 per month, gives you twice-yearly dental checkups and dental hygiene appointments, as well as 10% off the cost of your dental treatments and FREE teeth whitening, so you can ensure your mouth isn’t just healthy, but your smile looks amazing too!