February is American Heart Month! Though it may not be obvious at first, there is a direct correlation between oral health and cardiovascular health. That connection? Plaque. There’s plaque in your mouth and plaque in your arteries. Even though they’re not the same types of plaque, one can still influence the other.
5-ways Inflammation Can Endanger Health
Read below for 5 ways that inflammation caused by plaque in your mouth can affect the plaque in your arteries:
- Bacteria from the mouth migrates to the bloodstream and can cause an increase in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the body.
- Patients with gum disease are at an increased risk for heart disease.
- Oral inflammation has been linked to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) as well as stroke
- Patients with periodontal disease (loss of gum tissue and bone around the teeth) are almost 2 times more likely to have a heart attack than those with healthy gums.
- If there’s a chronic problem of too much bad bacteria in the mouth, it can spread into the bloodstream and potentially infect the heart, leading to illnesses such as endocarditis.
How do You protect Yourself?
Though no causal relationship has been documented and the exact mechanism is unknown, the evidence that there is an association between oral inflammation and overall inflammation leading to cardiovascular disease is well documented. So, how do you protect yourself? Make sure that you see your dentist at least twice a year for check ups and cleanings. Regular recare visits are the best way to treat and prevent oral inflammation. And, if you notice signs of inflammation in the gums such as puffiness, redness or bleeding, be sure to notify your dentist. In between dental visits, home care is of the utmost importance. You should be brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to help maintain your best oral health.