The Heart and Mouth Connection

The Heart and Mouth Connection

31 July 2023

Did you know that heart disease and oral health could be linked?

Cardiologists and dentists have long debated the link between dental health and heart disease, with experts agreeing that there are plausible reasons why dental health and heart health may be linked.

The link between dental and heart health has been researched for many years, and it’s widely believed that there’s a connection between blood clots in the heart and gum disease; due to the build-up of fatty deposits on the lining of the artery walls. It’s also been suggested that bacteria found in the gaps around the teeth can pass into the bloodstream. These react with plaque build-up in the arteries, affecting the heart.

Apparently, gum disease doesn’t just signal inflammation; it also increases inflammation, and, interestingly, the same bacteria that colonise our gums have been found in arterial-wall plaque. Research published in the British Medical Journal has shown that people who never or rarely brush their teeth are 70% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who brush twice a day.

So can preventing periodontal disease with brushing and flossing prevent heart disease?

The evidence isn’t clear yet, but it’s intriguing. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease. Studies found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.

Heart disease can be hard to catch early because many of the conditions that preceed it may have no symptoms. You won’t ever feel your arteries hardening or your cholesterol rising. BUT, you might notice bleeding or painful gums.

Obviously, people worried about heart disease need to pay attention to the established risk factors. People shouldn’t think that if they just started to brush their teeth more they could go back to smoking or ignore their diabetes. If you’re at risk of heart disease, do the obvious:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Control any conditions that increase risk, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

And remember, gum disease often goes unnoticed. Warning signs that you may have gum disease include:

  • Red, tender, swollen gums.
  • Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing.
  • Gums that seem to be pulling from your teeth.
  • Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Teeth that are loose or separating from each other.

While regular dental exams and cleanings are important, you can play a major role in preventing gum disease every day. The best way to be proactive in maintaining your oral and overall health is by going for regular check-ups, getting professional cleanings, and regular brushing and flossing.

Taking care of your oral health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vitally important. Staying active and having a balanced diet too can contribute to a healthy heart and mouth – and keep you smiling.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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