May 28, 2024

Oral Health and Heart Health – Are they Linked?

Recently we celebrated American Heart Month, and we asked one of our dentists, Derrick Meredith, DDS, to discuss the correlation between dental health and heart health awareness.

What is the link between dental health and heart health?

Recent studies have suggested that there is a correlation between cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease/poor oral health. When compared, a patient with moderate-severe periodontal disease is at a higher risk for heart disease than a patient with healthy gums. 

Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria and other germs through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. According to Mayo Clinic, this can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria. 

What things might a dentist notice that could mean you have cardiovascular problems?

Some warning signs for periodontal disease that dentists might notice include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Gums that are sore to the touch and bleed easily
  • Increased root exposure and gum recession
  • Increase in tooth mobility (feeling like your teeth are loosening) or spacing

Are there proper dental care habits people can do to improve heart health?

  • It is important to visit your dentist and hygienist for regular exams and cleanings
    • Regular visits allow us to catch potential issues before they become bigger problems
  • Brush twice daily with proper toothpaste using soft bristle toothbrush
  • Floss daily

How important are dental visits for overall health?

  • Oral health can provide physicians with warning signs for a range of diseases, including heart disease. It is important to establish healthy habits and healthy daily routines to not only positively impact oral health but also positively impact overall health. 

Dr. Meredith is a dentist at Holzer Dental Health Partners, located in Jackson, Ohio. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and provides dental exams, xrays, teeth whitening, partials, dentures, crowns and bridges, extractions, periodontics, and Botox injections for TMJ, Bruxism/grinding/clenching, headaches, orofacial pain, trigger point therapy and facial esthetics. To schedule an appointment, call (740) 286-0480.