If you're like most people, brushing your teeth and seeing your dentist and hygienist regularly is important to you. But if you're honest, brushing and flossing after every meal probably isn't a habit you are succeeding in 100 percent of the time. As the American Dental Association currently recommends brushing at least twice a day and flossing once, that's okay. Did you know your dental habits and health may be related to your heart health, however? The science isn't all in yet, but here's a look at this seemingly odd connection.
Heart Disease And Gum Disease Have Some Things In Common
Reduced Blood Flow And Smoking
When a person has heart disease, they often have a reduction in blood flow and oxygen. For example, a stroke is caused by a blockage of oxygen-rich blood flow to your brain. There are different reasons this can occur, but most of the time it is a blocked blood vessel. When this happens, the brain cells begin dying almost immediately. Arteries in the legs that are clogged may also play a role in gum disease.
Smoking cigarettes, which is common in those with heart disease, also blocks blood flow, including to the gums. This interrupted blood circulation can lead to increased infections and bacteria in the mouth. This can cause more cavities and gum disease, but it may also cause the bad bacteria in your mouth to find its way to your heart, which is already compromised in those with heart disease or congenital defects.
Artery walls can become hardened, which means they become narrower as fatty plaques from cholesterol are deposited. This causes chronic inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is your body's way of dealing with foreign bodies or toxins. In the case of your arteries, the body recognizes this plaque build-up isn't good and tries to eradicate it, but unfortunately that can lead to a fat and blood clot breaking off and causing a blockage or traveling to another part of the body and causing harm.
When you have gum disease, the inflammation is no different. That's why your gums may feel sore or even bleed. The tissue that is holding your teeth in place is infected. When it becomes advanced, it is called periodontal disease, and it will eventually cause tooth loss. Unfortunately, this can make eating properly even more difficult.
Whether or not there is a direct correlation between your teeth and heart health or if those who take good care of their teeth simply have healthier habits overall remains to be seen, but it pays to do your very best to take care of your teeth and gums. For more information, contact a dental office like Milner Dentistry.