Most people recognize the importance of good oral hygiene for healthy, strong teeth but many people may not be aware of the serious health issues linked with poor oral health. For many years, dentists have believed that the mouth provided a window for the rest of the body and of late numerous research studies have confirmed a link between good oral and general health, thus making brushing your teeth more important than ever.
How is oral health linked to heart disease?
It may seem strange that brushing your teeth could help to effectively save your life but many research studies have now confirmed that this may be the case. In 2010, a research team led by Professor Richard Watt, from University College London, used information published in the British Medical Journal to determine how oral health affects heart health. The study involved more than 11,000 people and researchers found that people who do not brush their teeth twice a day are up to 70% more likely to suffer a heart attack than people who brush their teeth twice a day. The study took a number of different factors into account, including lifestyle choices and medical history.
The results of the 2010 study were supported by a study carried out at the University of California’s Berkeley School of Public Health; the study, which focused on the link between heart disease and oral health in women, found that women who attended regular dental visits were much less likely to suffer from heart disease.
Why do oral health problems contribute to heart disease?
The relationship between heart disease and oral health has become an increasingly important issue, as a number of studies have now found that a healthy mouth can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks and heart disease, as well as strokes. Many experts have attributed the relationship between oral health conditions and heart conditions to the presence of harmful bacteria; bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and it may attach to fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries, causing inflammation. Inflammation is linked to strokes and heart attacks, as blood flow around the body becomes disrupted and this affects the transportation of oxygen to the brain.
Preventing oral health and heart problems
Research into the link between oral health and an increased risk of heart disease is ongoing but many studies have already confirmed that poor oral health can cause heart problems and dentists are therefore keen to promote good oral hygiene and raise awareness of the importance of good oral health.
In order to keep dental and general health problems at bay, there are a few simple steps you can take:
- brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time (most people brush in the morning and then again in the evening)
- avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks
- use dental floss on a regular basis
- use mouthwash
- visit your dentist every six to twelve months for a routine check-up; if you experience pain, bleeding or swelling, arrange to see your dentist as soon as possible
Richard is a contributor to the Cosmetic Dentistry Guide resource where he has come to learn that a healthy smile goes a long way to one’s overall health. He partakes in some online marketing and also has some creative writing he does on the side. He would like to wish you all a healthy heart.