Is There a Link Between Dental Health and Heart Disease?

Close portrait of young woman dentist with healthy wide smile holding artificial tooth on white background

Since February is heart health month, we hope you’re all taking advantage of the information and free checkups you might have been offered. Knowledge can be your best weapon against heart disease, as you can take steps now to keep your heart healthy for decades in the future.

But there is one piece of knowledge that isn’t common, and yet could have serious implications for your health. Did you know that evidence points to a link between dental health and heart disease? Researchers have found that people with poor oral health, including gum disease, are more likely to have one or more heart attacks.

Of course, we know that correlation does not equal causation. It is possible that people who brush and floss regularly are also more likely to be taking care of their health in other ways. A healthy diet and regular exercise do go a long way toward preventing heart problems.

On the other hand, many dentists and cardiologists point out that inflammation is a strong component in both gum disease and cardiovascular diseases. Much of the plaque that builds up in our arteries is actually a part of an inflammatory process in the body. And of course, gum disease begins with gingivitis, in which gums become inflamed and the mouth is infected.

The results of a recent paper, published in the Journal of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology, concludes that:

  • gum disease is indeed a risk factor for coronary artery disease
  • gum disease increases the risk of stroke
  • research has uncovered a direct link between gum disease and clogged arteries in the legs
  • the bacteria found in both health problems are similar, with the same types of bacteria found in both gum disease and clogged arteries

Given this evidence, we suggest that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Dental hygiene is important either way, but we should all take note of the link between oral health and heart health. Schedule regular appointments with your dentist, and work to resolve any dental problems right away.

Yes, dental checkups and repairs can be expensive. If you don’t already have dental insurance, you might be interested to know that you can purchase this type of insurance at any time. You don’t have to wait for the Open Enrollment period that applies to health insurance! Give us a call, and we will help you choose a dental health care plan that is right for you.

Filed under: Dental Health