Can Brushing Your Teeth Ward Off Heart Disease?

Ann Arbor Dentist

We all know what to do (and what not to do) to prevent heart disease. Don't overeat salty or fatty foods. Get exercise and rest. Eat your vegetables. Take medications to prevent worsening of an existing condition. That probably doesn’t surprise anyone.

What is more likely to surprise people is that studies are beginning to show that oral health and gum disease are related to serious conditions like heart disease. In addition, your dentist will tell you that heart disease can also be managed if you remember one very important part of the daily regimen: brushing your teeth.

The Buildup of Bacteria

Brushing your teeth helps eliminate the growth of bacteria in your mouth. However, the opposite is also true. Not brushing your teeth enables bacteria to flourish and this can lead to infections and plaque build up.

Similar to how bacteria produces plaque in your mouth, the same can happen in other parts of your body. Bacteria in your arteries can produce enough plaque to limit or cut off the flow of blood and this is one of the causes of heart disease. Here is a more in-depth explanation.

Effects on the Heart

The heart requires its own constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. If one of the two large, branching coronary arteries delivering oxygenated blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked, a portion of the heart is starved of oxygen, a condition called ‘cardiac ischemia.' If cardiac ischemia lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies — otherwise known as a heart attack.

This does not mean that if you forget to brush your teeth one night, then you’re exponentially more likely to develop heart disease. The longer you neglect brushing your teeth the more likely the bacteria in your mouth can travel to other body parts and then over time they can produce plaque and that build up can have consequences.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease (advanced gum disease) are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease (heart disease). Another study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease, cavities, and missing teeth, were good at predicting heart disease.

Give your heart a break by brushing your teeth and flossing daily — and avoid acidic, sugary foods. It's one of the only ways your mouth can actually talk to your heart.

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Bacteria can wreak havoc on your teeth causing cavities, gum disease, and other infections. Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste not only helps improve your oral health but also helps ward off heart disease by eliminating bacteria.

Dr. Robert Stevenson & Dr. Carrie Guernsey are experienced dentists in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They’re currently accepting new patients and can provide more information on the importance of brushing your teeth and maintaining good oral hygiene. To request an appointment, call us today at (734) 201-1610.

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This blog post has been updated.