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Dental Hygiene and Heart Health

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Good dental hygiene may aid in heart health MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

If dental and oral maladies plague your health, you might be at risk for another major problem.

Our heart health is impacted by our oral health.

While researchers are still debating whether one causes the other, a strong correlation has been found. There is a link between oral and heart health, according to those conducting the various research projects.

Periodontitis is the leading cause of bacteria that, when released into the blood stream, can cause heart trouble.

According to information published in the Harvard Heart Letter:

“In people with periodontitis (erosion of tissue and bone that support the teeth), chewing and toothbrushing release bacteria into the bloodstream. Several species of bacteria that cause periodontitis have been found in the atherosclerotic plaque in arteries in the heart and elsewhere. This plaque can lead to heart attack …”

In addition, inflammation of the gums may cause inflammation elsewhere in the body. In the same publication, researchers say:

“Oral bacteria could also harm blood vessels or cause blood clots by releasing toxins that resemble proteins found in artery walls or the bloodstream … inflammation in the mouth revs up inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries, where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.”

Inflammation in one area of the body (the gums in this case) may cause the body to react in such a way that it creates inflammation in other areas of the body (such as the heart).

A study conducted in Finland, and published by the American Dental Association “found that a poor oral health diagnosis was a stronger predictor of heart disease than were other markers, such as high levels of the clotting factor fibrinogen, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or high triglycerides.”

In the study, researchers looked at the connection between heart disease and having dental and oral issues.

Australia’s ABC Health and Wellbeing website said that “people with certain heart conditions, such as abnormal heart valves or certain congenital heart defects, are at a higher risk of developing an infection of the heart (known as infective endocarditis) after receiving certain dental treatments."

Antibiotics may be given to those patients deemed to be susceptible or at risk for such an infection.

Even though poor oral health may not cause heart problems directly, it is still a risk factor and one that should be taken care of.


"The Journal of the American Dental Association." POOR ORAL HEALTH LINKED WITH CORONARY HEART DISEASE. The American Dental Association, Apr. 2004. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.

"New Releases." Heart Disease and Oral Health: Role of Oral Bacteria in Heart Plaque. Harvard Medical School, Feb. 2007. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.

Pogson, Jenny. "ABC Health & Wellbeing." Healthy Teeth for a Healthy Heart? ABC, 19 June 2012. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. http://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2012/06/19/3528574.htm

Reviewed December 19, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment1 Comments


Thanks for sharing. Dental care and dental hygiene is most definitely linked to systemic processes like heart disease. There is too much research now bringing it all together.

December 19, 2012 - 9:53pm
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