Substantial evidence has shown that there are links between oral health and heart disease, but not many people exactly understand why and how. The medical and dental vocabulary can be quite perplexing to most of us.
We are aware of how complex the human body is. We don’t always acknowledge that 90% of what makes us human are not human at all. To understand a disease, and the relationships between diseases mean to swim in the deep ocean of the microbiological aspect of being human.
The oral cavity may just be a few inches away from the heart, but mapping the link on a microbial scale would pretty much give a non-microbiologist a heart attack.
The Role of Oral Bacteria in Heart Plaque
The evidence is clear that the source of plaque in a person’s arteries is unquestionably influenced by the billions of bacteria that live in the mouth. The least your dentist can tell you is to keep brushing and flossing your teeth to keep the bad guys in your mouth from travelling to your heart.
This advice comes from the fact that oral bacteria produce harmful toxins that can harm blood vessels as they travel to your artery walls and through the bloodstream. Although it is not the bacteria, per se, that harms the blood vessels.
To protect your body, the immune system would make a desperate attempt to release toxins to kill the bacteria. The toxins, however, end up harming vessel walls or causing blood to clot in the process. This is the exact response that causes your gums to inflame when you have an infection. Periodontal disease, for example, causes severe inflammation in the mouth that can rev up through the arteries and cause a stroke or a heart attack.
The Importance of Dental Hygiene
From the moment you found out what toothbrushes are for to the time you lost your first permanent tooth, you’ve been hearing your dentist remind you to practice good oral hygiene. From paediatric to cosmetic dentistry, the importance of good dental hygiene remains at the core of any professional advice.
You may never hear your cardiologist tell you to brush your teeth properly or use an antiseptic mouth rinse. But he or she will tell you to not put anything high in saturated fat, starch or sugar in your mouth, just like what your dentist told you in the process of removing plaque from the back of your teeth.
The point is, if it’s bad for your heart, don’t put it in your mouth. Brush your teeth and don’t miss your regular dentist appointments if you want to keep your heart healthy.