Many adults today are doing what they can to make the most of their longevity. Since scientists tell us we are living longer than our ancestors, this can mean more opportunity to experience unwanted conditions. A few simple proactive steps like eating a low-sodium diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting out for some exercise every day can go a long way in protecting our overall health. These actions reduce the risk for several problems, including heart disease. You know what else is good for your heart? Quality dental care.
Matters of the Heart
Due to the serious nature of heart disease and other heart-related conditions, an abundance of research has been conducted over the years. In more than one study, researchers have found a connection between the heart and the mouth. It all comes down to bacteria. You may know that cavities are caused by bacteria that live in the mouth. The same is true with gum disease. However, what you may not know is that the microorganisms that can cause problems in the mouth can also journey to other parts of the body, including the heart.
What happens then?
The reason why researchers have linked heart health to oral health is because studies have found the same bacterium that is in the mouth in the arteries of the heart. The degree of bacterial presence in the heart correlates with the severity of oral decline. Basically, the more diseased the mouth is (gum disease, tooth infections), the greater the numbers of bacteria are found in the heart, too. This can manifest as:
- Cardiovascular disease. This group of conditions that affect the heart and arteries around this vital organ typically coincides with narrowing of the vessels that lead to and exit from the heart. Narrowing is often associated with arterial plaque. Part of that plaque may be fat, and part of it may be bacteria; that same bacteria that has been living in the mouth.
- Heart attack. Heart attack is just one of the events that may result from having cardiovascular disease. Stroke is another. For this reason, researchers have added these two conditions among others that could be caused by poor oral health.
- Endocarditis. This heart condition develops within the lining of the heart, called the endocardium. It describes the state of infection and inflammation within the heart, and present a risk of permanent damage to the heart valves.
For a great smile and a protected heart, call your Shakopee dentist for a routine checkup and cleaning. (952) 445-6657.