Dental Health & Heart Disease

23 Apr
A Dentist and her Dental assistant

A Dentist and her Dental assistant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know there is a direct correlation between healthy teeth & gums and a healthy heart?  Studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack or need to have heart surgery are much more likely than the average population to have gum disease.There are a couple theories about this.  One theory is, bacteria in your mouth makes its way into your blood stream where it coats the inner lumen of your arteries contributing to atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries is when you get a build up of plaque on the inside of your arteries.  This plaque build up gradually causes the arteries to become narrower – making it harder for blood to flow through them.  The plaque also makes the arteries more stiff – reducing their ability to expand to accommodate more blood flow when needed – such as when you are doing aerobic activity.

These narrow arteries are the perfect place for a blood clot to wedge itself causing a blockage of blood flow to any tissues beyond the location of the clot. This means that oxygen rich blood normally carried by the arteries is not being delivered.

This is what is happening during a heart attack.  An artery that feeds oxygen rich blood to the heart muscle is blocked off.  Your heart muscle tissue cannot function for long without oxygen and the tissue quickly begins to die.

Another theory is that poor dental health may lead to mouth pain, tooth loss, and the possible need for dentures.  All of these things may contribute to a decreased consumption of foods high in fiber.  Instead, people may be turning to higher fat food alternatives because they are softer and easier to chew.

I’m not aware of any studies that prove that poor dental health causes heart disease, but there are many studies that show that people with poor dental health also have poor cardiovascular health.

Coincidence?  I think not!

What you can do to avoid dental related health problems:

–         Brush your teeth – morning and night

–         Floss daily

–         Go to the dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning

–         Can’t afford dental care?  Check with your local university.  Many Schools of Dentistry will offer affordable dental care.

Find more info at this Health Canada link:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/oral-bucco/index-eng.php

 

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2 Responses to “Dental Health & Heart Disease”

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