How Does Dental Care Impact Heart Health?

By Dr. Ribeiro on March 09, 2016

A senior man and woman with healthy-looking teeth, smilingMost people are aware that a poor diet and lack of exercise can have damaging effects on heart health, but many are surprised to learn that the state of our oral health can also put heart health at risk, which is why proper dental care is not only important to maintaining a healthy smile but also to maintaining a healthy heart. General dentistry treatments can get oral health back on track and help you maintain a healthy smile for years to come. Learn more about dental care and heart health in this overview from Clarksville, TN dentist Richard C. Ribeiro.

The Link Between Oral Health and Heart Health

Although heart health has many components, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and good genetics, studies suggest that patients with severe gum disease, a major oral health issue, are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular problems. Gum disease, a bacterial infection of the gums, is of particular concern to heart health because it is believed bacteria from the mouth may reach the heart by traveling through the bloodstream. Practicing good dental care can help prevent gum disease and decrease the risk of heart-related problems, such as:

  • Endocarditis: Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the endocardium tissue. This is particularly dangerous to heart health because the endocardium tissue is the tissue that lines the inside of the heart and the heart's valves. Endocarditis can permanently damage these valves, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body.
  • Arterial inflammation and atherosclerosis: Patients with inflammation from gum disease may be more likely to suffer from arterial inflammation. Inflammation in the arteries can lead to plaque buildup and arterial hardening, called atherosclerosis.
  • Coronary artery disease and heart attack: Patients with severe gum disease are also at greater risk of coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack.

Protecting Heart Health with Proper Dental Care

Proper dental care is just one component of maintaining a healthy heart. Eating a healthy diet and keeping an active lifestyle are also important but you can help reduce the risk of oral health-related heart issues by practicing these tips:

  • Floss everyday: Gum disease is one of the biggest risks to oral and heart health, but it is often easily prevented with proper oral hygiene habits, specifically flossing. Flossing removes plaque and food remnants between the teeth and along the gum line where brushing alone can miss.
  • Brush twice a day: Brushing for a full two minutes, at least twice a day, helps remove plaque, bacteria, and leftover bits of food from the teeth and mouth, reducing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can help further decrease the risk of gum disease.
  • Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings: Seeing your dentist for regular exams and cleanings at least once every six months is a great way to ensure oral health is at its best.

Discover Your Treatment Options

For more information about dental care and heart health, or to discuss your treatment options, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ribeiro today.

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Dr. Ribeiro has been my dentist for many years, and he has always provided exceptional service. His staff is very professional and courteous. They always go out of their way to ensure I have a pleasant experience. Tina Reed

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2305 Rudolphtown Rd
Clarksville, TN 37043

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Clarksville Office

2305 Rudolphtown Rd
Clarksville, TN 37043

More Info Directions (931) 645-6362