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The Link Between Heart & Oral Health

The Link Between Heart & Oral Health

As a family dentistry in McKinney, our staff at McKinney Smiles wants all of our patients to enjoy the very best oral health possible. Those who regularly read our McKinney Smiles Blog know that their oral health plays a much bigger role in protecting their overall health than what might be assumed.

The mouth acts as a doorway that leads directly to the overall health of the body. In fact, some illnesses first develop oral symptoms even though the underlying cause exists elsewhere in the body. Harmful bacteria in the mouth are known to cause gum disease and tooth decay, and certain studies have also linked this bacteria to an increased risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease. While a clear cause and effect relationship is not currently known, evidence continues to mount showing that a clear connection exists.

Oral Health & Heart Disease

Individuals who suffer from periodontal disease – an advanced form of gum disease – have twice the risk of developing coronary artery disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. One recent study even found that the presence of common oral problems – such as missing teeth, cavities and gum disease – were as accurate at indicating the risk of heart disease as cholesterol levels.

Both cardiovascular disease and gum disease cause inflammation to develop in the body, and they also share other common risk factors, including diabetes, age and smoking. The factors these two seemingly unrelated illnesses have in common may help to explain why oral and blood vessel diseases occur in tandem. However, the link between cardiovascular disease and gum disease appears to exist independently of these risk factors in many studies, reports the American Heart Association.

Periodontal disease can also make existing heart condition worse. Patients at risk of infective endocarditis may need to take antibiotics prior to even routine dental procedures.

Daily flossing and brushing can help prevent and even reverse the effects of early stage gum disease, a condition known as gingivitis. When left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease, causing gum tissue to pull away from the base of a patient’s teeth to create small pockets that grow large over time. If left unchecked, the inflammation and infection will attack the gum tissue and supporting bone structure that holds your teeth in position, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Preventing Poor Oral Health

Your family dentistry in McKinney wants every patient to know the best practices for their oral health. Dr. Lawrence believes that the most important step you can take to prevent gum disease and tooth decay is to practice quality oral hygiene at home, which includes:

  • Brushing twice daily with a toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Flossing daily
  • Using an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing
  • Eating a balanced diet low in artificial sugars and starches
  • Not smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Scheduling regular cleanings and checkups with your favorite family dentistry in McKinney.

That’s it. Follow these steps and you’ll greatly improve your oral health while also lowering your risk of heart disease.

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