The Connection Between Oral Hygiene and Heart Health
As we learn more about the human body, we realize that sometimes more than one disease can affect the body. But, as time goes on, researchers have come to realize that one ailment may be a portent of another.
So it is with inflammation of the gums. Gum inflammation or bad breath can be indicative of diabetes, heart disease, leukemia, kidney disease, as well as several cancers. Finding these diseases early is the best way to hasten treatment and the best possible outcome.
In the case of heart disease, researchers are not really certain if gum inflammation causes heart disease, or if it’s merely an indicator. The Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden recently concluded in a study that people with gum disease had a 28% higher chance of having a heart attack. Since 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease every year, oral care creates a much more comprehensive effect on health than previously believed.
Inflammation is caused by your body’s own immune response to bacteria and infection. Foods high in sugar and fat can also trigger gum inflammation, which is why a healthy diet is such an important part of overall health. Making these healthy choices helps your body fight disease on more than one front.
In addition, oral care, itself, including careful brushing twice a day, flossing every tooth every day, and oral irrigation can all contribute to reducing inflammation. By reducing gum inflammation, researchers believe a patient can contribute to heart health.
In the case of diabetes, it is believed that high blood sugar, and specifically, high glucose levels in saliva contribute to the growth of bacteria in the mouth. This, in turn, combines with food to form plaque, causing bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. As a result of gum disease, blood glucose can become hard to control. So, it becomes a kind of vicious cycle. When diabetes is caught early, it can lead to timely treatment.
You may also notice that during your routine oral checkup, your dentist carefully checks all parts of your mouth, even under your tongue. This is an oral cancer screening, and has now become a routine part of dental care.
Since oral health problems may indicate of other health problems, regular visits to your dentist make sense, not just from the point of view of dental care, but for general health, as well.