A lot of healthy lifestyle choices benefit more than one system within your body. Eating well, exercising, good sleep, and fresh air all support a lot of your physical needs. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that what hurts one area of your health can easily hurt another area, too. An important (though less known) connection in your health systems is the connection between oral hygiene and heart health.
Your mouth is home to countless kinds of bacteria. Most of these bacteria are normal and good, but some may put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease. Heart disease is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of less-than-desirable conditions in your heart and its connecting vessels. Your heart muscle, valves, and rhythm can all be affected by heart disease.
If something prevents your heart and blood vessels from working properly, the consequences can be devastating. That’s why it’s important to know how your oral health and other lifestyle factors can support (or hurt) your heart health. If you have gum disease or dental plaque, you are at an increased risk for developing heart disease.
Gum disease isn’t always obvious, though somewhere around 50% of all adults will get it. Warning signs include redness, swollen, and receding gums. The same bacteria that cause these problems also put your heart at risk.
Science shows that some bad oral bacteria can travel through your bloodstream and harm not only other parts of your body, but also the arteries they travel through.
Harmful oral bacteria can cause:
- Increased cholesterol build up in your arteries
- Arterial walls to thin and become more vulnerable
- Arterial walls to become sticky and attract more cholesterol and other pathogens
Build up in your arteries blocks your blood flow and can cause a heart attack or stroke.
You can see how keeping a close eye on your oral health has compounding positive effects. And the good news is that oral hygiene is simple and anyone can do it. (Even children need daily oral hygiene habits and should be taught how to care for their mouth.)
Prevent oral problems and heart disease by:
- Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day
- Flossing once a day
- Getting routine dental cleanings and check-ups
- Eating a balanced diet with limited snacking between meals
Bonus: eating a diet rich in unprocessed foods and vegetables supports heart health, too! See, everything really is connected.
Healthy Lifestyle for a Healthy Life
The health of your mouth can affect countless other health concerns and desires you might have. Oral health supports your sleep, heart, digestion, immune system, brain, and pregnancy.
The field of research that studies these kinds of connections is called the oral-systemic link. As research grows, we know a few things for sure. Prevention is everything, and knowing your risk factors is always important. Having relationships with a doctor and a dentist you trust can help give you the life satisfaction you desire.
Your health is truly a tightly woven map of interconnected parts and systems. Don’t be overwhelmed by everything there is to know, but find the right health care providers, and definitely make use of all the simple ways you can take care of yourself.
Dentists are Doctors
Dentists are medical professionals who can take care of a wide range of your health and wellness needs. If you are looking for a Portland dentist, who can get you on the right track holistically, come see Dr. Case at Family Dental Health. Make an appointment and let our team of caring, knowledgeable staff give you the smile and the life you want.