It’s easy to assume that when you’re at the dentist, you’re there to have your teeth and mouth examined, and when you’re seeing the doctor, they are concerned with the rest of your body, including your heart. That’s why many people are surprised to learn that there’s a direct link between the health of your teeth and a properly functioning cardiovascular system.
Whether you believe it or not, the truth is that healthy teeth and gums that are free from any kind of infection will do more than just ensure you have a nice smile. A cavity does not only impact your teeth, but can quickly and easily spread throughout your body. In fact, one way to identify problems such as heart disease or other serious conditions is when you start having problems with your mouth, teeth, and gums.
That’s why regular visits to the dentist are so important, and why Dr. Jody Jones takes his job caring for the families of Nashville so seriously.
The Link Between Tooth Disease And Your Heart
According to research from the American Heart Association (https://www.heart.org/), while there is no clear evidence that poor tooth health directly causes heart disease, the data does indicate that gum disease is somehow related to an increased risk of heart disease. Furthermore, inadequate oral health is more likely to result in bacterial infection reaching the blood stream, leading to a negative impact on the heart valves. It’s also been shown that tooth loss is connected to coronary artery disease.
So while the medical researchers can’t say that gum disease is the direct cause of most heart disease, it is definitely a contributing factor. There’s also the problem of diabetes. People with diabetes are more likely to be at risk of heart attack and other heart problems. At the same time, studies have shown that the better the oral care that diabetes patients receive, the better it is for their diabetes, and by extension, their heart.
It all comes down to bacteria. Tooth infections, gum disease, periodontal disease, chronic inflammation, and more undesirable conditions all arise from unwanted bacteria building up in the mouth. From there, it’s relatively easy for that bacteria to make its way into your bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body, causing all sorts of trouble along the way.
How Your Dentist Can Help Identity Heart Problems
All of the above connections are just more proof that regular visits to the dentist are a necessity. A well-trained dentist is not only helping care for your teeth and gums, but they can help identify potential problems that can directly impact your heart (and other critical parts of the body). So what kinds of symptoms will your dentist be checking for?
There are a number of signs your dentist will be looking for that could be an indicator of a potential heart problem. One of the first things they will be alerted by are swollen, red, or sore gums, which mean there’s a great chance you are suffering from gum disease. In the worst cases, your gums me be bleeding regularly, or have pus build up.
Another symptom that something may be wrong is chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis. Brown deposits that appear along your gum line are also a bad sign. In the worst cases, your teeth may be loosening or drifting apart. For example, if you’ve got any sort of dental appliance and have noticed it’s not fitting correctly then that may also be an indication something’s wrong.
If your dentist notices any of the above symptoms, they will want to take action immediately, before any infection can spread to other parts of your body, like your heart.
What Is Endocarditis?
When a person is suffering from infected gums, such as when excessive bleeding occurs or there is visible swelling and redness, this can be a trigger for a heart disease known as endocarditis. This is the result of bacteria from your gum infection spreading to the inner lining of your heart muscle. As the bacteria builds up, it can impair the ability of your heart valves from doing their job, and increases the chance of heart failure, such as a heart attack.
While this is not the only example of how your heart can be impacted by poor oral health, it’s one of the most direct ones. This is also why it’s important that you communicate to your dentist when you have a heart condition, and relate to them any heart medications that you might be taking. This is necessary information to ensure they are giving you the best possible dental care.
The Bottom Line: Brushing Your Teeth Can Soothe Your Heart
Hopefully by now you understand that the connection between your heart and mouth is very real. Perhaps the old saying should be amended to be “The way to his heart is through his mouth.” That’s just one more reason why you need to always pay attention to your daily oral hygiene routine.
This begins with brushing after every meal. But in addition, you should be flossing regularly, and rinsing with mouthwash at least once a day. If you are sensing any signs of tooth infection or gum disease, don’t wait. Go to see your dentist right away. And if you have a history of heart disease, or if heart problems run in your family, it’s even more important that you make regular visits to your dentist.
Your Nashville, Tennessee, Oral Health Specialists
At Jody Jones, DDS, we understand the unique role that your dental health plays in keeping your cardiovascular system functioning properly. We also advocate for a preventative model of health care, believing the best way to treat a tooth infection is before it happens. Our entire staff of dental professionals approaches their job with passion, prioritizing the health and well being of each and every one our patients.
When you visit our Nashville, Tennessee dental office, you’ll find they are equipped with the most advanced dental equipment in the region. Because we put your health and comfort above all else, you’ll rest easy while you’re in our care.
Contact us today to schedule your next dental appointment.