October 23, 2019
Is there a connection between your oral health and your heart health? A potential one, yes, but more research is needed to confirm a direct relationship between poor dental hygiene and heart health risks.
Links have been found between gum disease and an increased risk for heart disease, as well as a connection between tooth loss and coronary artery disease. Poor dental health has also been shown to increase the risk for blood bacterial infections and levels of inflammation in the body.
One study presented at the 2018 American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting in Chicago discovered that those study participants who brushed less than twice a day for less than two minutes had a three-times greater risk of having or dying from a heart attack, heart failure or stroke compared to those who brushed at least twice a day for at least two minutes.
The study’s lead researcher Dr. Shogo Matsui, who is a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences at Hiroshima University in Japan, however, said that the study was not designed to prove a causal relationship between brushing your teeth longer and better heart health.
Dr. Ann Bolger, a cardiologist and professor of medicine emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco, told the American Heart Association,” It is possible that people who are very attentive to their dental health are also very attentive to other aspects of their health.”
But she did add that there is enough scientific evidence to point to a possible connection. She explained that gum disease is a condition “where the body may be in a sort of continual state of inflammation, and this seems to be a very powerful predictor of cardiovascular disease”.
Some studies have investigated whether confounding factors, like smoking, could be the reason a potential link between dental and cardiovascular health is being observed, and even then the results are mixed.
One study examining tooth loss and its link to cardiovascular disease found the association weakened after factoring in a person’s smoking status, while other studies that accounted for smokers still found it to be strong.
So what is the bottom line? Experts at the American Heart Association, the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Harvard Health all agree that a healthy mouth is an important part of your overall health. So, make sure you are brushing and flossing every day, as well as getting regular dental cleanings and checkups.