Further Evidence Links Heart Health to Gum Health

At Twin Peaks, our Longmont family dentists have long instructed our patients on the important role healthy teeth and gums play on helping us maintain a healthy body.

Decades worth of research has shown that patients who deal with tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for developing chronic diseases like diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.

While the connect between healthy gums and a healthy heart has been shown in previous research, a new study has provided further proof of this connection.

Further Evidence Emerges

A recent South Korean study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, examined over 161,000 participants with no history of heart failure or atrial fibrillation who were enrolled in the Korean National Health Insurance System.

In addition to collecting the participants’ oral hygiene habits and current oral health status, those involved in the study provided information on previous illnesses, lifestyle habits like smoking, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

After a 10-year follow-up period, participants who brushed their teeth three or more times a day had a 10 percent lower risk for atrial fibrillation and a 12 percent lower risk for heart failure when compared to participants who brushed less frequently. This correlation remained true even after researchers adjusted for risk factors like hypertension, age, exercise, and lifestyle habits.

What’s Behind This Connection?

When it comes to our oral health, it’s easy to assume brushing and flossing only helps to protect our teeth and gums. How then can our oral health habits impact the health of our heart?

One possible reason, according to researchers, is that gum disease allows harmful oral bacteria to move throughout the body. Let’s take a look at how.

When gum tissue becomes inflamed as the result of a buildup of harmful oral bacteria, commonly referred to as plaque, it becomes inflamed, red, and bleeds easily, especially after brushing and flossing.

As cracks develop in our gum tissue, it allows plaque to enter our bloodstream where the bacteria can then move throughout the body. Once in the bloodstream, plaque can begin to accumulate in our joints and our heart valves. Oral plaque then causes the same type of inflammation in these new areas of the body as it does in the mouth. This in turn leads to the development of health problems, such as heart disease and arthritis.

Inflammation, as the research team explains, could mess with the heart’s electrical system, which can lead to atrial fibrillation or heart failure.

The results of this study have reaffirmed other research that connects heart health and lower inflammation with quality oral hygiene.

Research into this field of study is getting stronger because microbiology tests are more advanced now than ever before. These advancements are providing researchers with more insight into how bacteria travels throughout the body and where it eventually ends up once it leaves the mouth.

However, it’s not only the heart that can be impacted by oral bacteria. Since oral bacteria can cause an increase in inflammation in the body, that can increase an individual’s risk of other issues as well. One such issue, a study published in the International Journal of Cancer noted that dental plaque may even increase our risk for pancreatic cancer.

Our Longmont Family Dentists Can Help

As research continues to find new ways of explaining how our oral health impacts our overall health, it’s important to keep on thing in mind – Our oral health matters.

To enjoy a healthy smile and body, it’s vital that patients receive regular dental exams and cleanings from our team at Twin Peaks. While regular dental care may not seem that important, as this and other research has shown, what goes on in the mouth can show plenty about what goes on in the body.