Good oral health protects your heart
Your mouth and your heart are not far apart. An inflammation in your mouth can even cause a heart attack.
If you have a cavity, the first idea that comes to mind is to book an appointment with a dentist. And if your gums bleed when you brush your teeth or floss, is that normal? It should not be.
“If your gum bleeds, there is an inflammation. Some people have an inflammation that covers their gums entirely, which is as dangerous as an untreated wound the size of your palm”, says Johanna Kukila, the Head Dentist of Hammas Mehiläinen Forum.
It is quite common not to worry about red gums. However, it is just as good of a reason to book an appointment with a dentist as a toothache.
Periodontitis is a risk to the heart
If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, which involves inflammation of the tissues that support the teeth. With periodontitis, the tartar and bacterial plaque under the gums cause an inflammation that destroys the connective tissue that fixes the teeth to the jawbone. Advanced periodontitis can cause the teeth to become loose.
Periodontitis is a risk factor for various serious diseases, but it is particularly dangerous to the heart. It increases the risk for heart attacks, cerebral infarction, atherosclerosis and myocarditis.
“People who suffer from heart diseases generally have poor oral health,” says Kukila.
Periodontitis is also associated with diabetes.
The cause of these serious consequences is that the pathogens do not stay in the mouth. Instead, they travel all around the body through the circulatory system. According to Kukila, pathogens that cause periodontitis have been detected in all parts of the body.
The pathogens already pose a risk, but they also cause low-grade inflammation in the body that is linked with various diseases. Low-grade inflammation develops when the body’s immune system tries to defend the body against pathogens.
People with heart conditions are the most at risk. They are most likely to suffer from the severe consequences of oral inflammation.
Gingivitis may be asymptomatic
Periodontitis and its antecedent, gingivitis, can cause symptoms such as red and swollen gums. Some people experience bleeding gums when they brush their teeth or clean their interdental spaces. However, many cases of gingivitis are completely asymptomatic. That is why the bacteria can do harm in peace before the condition is detected.
Periodontitis may also go undetected if you do not brush your teeth carefully and do not clean your interdental spaces.
“If the brush does not touch the gums to make them bleed, the condition may not be detected,” says Kukila.
A good way of ensuring the health of your gums is to visit a dentist regularly and check with a dental hygienist that your technique is correct. Regular tartar removal performed by a dental hygienist help keep the gums in good condition.
Periodontitis is harmful to the heart
Advanced periodontitis can damage the mouth and lead to serious heart diseases. Periodontitis increases the risk of:
• heart attacks
• coronary artery disease
• heart failure
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Finnish Dental Association