Heart disease can strike anyone regardless of age or background. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States with approximately 1 in every 4 deaths linked to the disease.
While some risk factors like obesity, high cholesterol and family history are obvious, there are plenty of other lesser known factors that can influence your risk for heart disease.
Did you know that poor dental health is linked to heart disease? The mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body, so it’s no surprise that poor dental health can lead to a host of overall health complications.
In observance of National Heart Health Month, Dr. Aswazzan explains the connection between heart health and the health of your smile.
“Heart disease” is the general term used to refer to several different types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart condition is coronary artery disease. This particular disease causes decreased blood flow to the heart, which can cause a heart attack. The decrease in blood to the heart occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, narrowing the space for blood to flow.
Other conditions that relate to heart disease include:
There are several heart disease risk factors including uncontrollable components like age or family history. However, there are also behavioral factors that you can control to decrease your likelihood of developing heart disease:
Diet: Are you eating a well-balanced diet? Eating a poor diet won’t just affect your waistline, but it will also have devastating effects on your cardiovascular health. Consuming a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol affect heart health and raise blood pressure levels.
Alcohol Consumption: Enjoying alcohol every once in awhile doesn’t have a meaningful impact on overall health. Patients run into health issues when they drink more than the recommended amount. Women should not consume more than 1 drink on a daily basis, while men should avoid consuming more than 2 drinks a day. Drinking excess alcohol regularly can end up raising your blood pressure and in turn, increase your risk for heart disease.
Tobacco Use: Tobacco use can harm your health because smoking damages the blood vessels, which can then lead to heart conditions or heart disease.
Physical Activity: Being physically active is beneficial for every aspect of wellness. According to the American Heart Association, for optimal health, we should complete at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Regularly exercising will decrease your risk of heart disease as well as risk for related conditions like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Body Mass Index: A high body mass index (BMI) has also been connected to heart disease. Obesity, in particular, is linked to heart disease because it’s also connected to higher amounts of “bad” cholesterol and lower levels of “good” cholesterol.
A study from the University of Florida found evidence linking oral bacteria to heart disease. Researchers in the study infected mice with the bacteria that causes gum disease. After gum disease was detected, researchers noticed an increase in cholesterol and inflammation, which are risk factors associated with heart disease. Another study from the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden found that gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%.
While a cause-and-effect relationship can’t be established, we do know that heart disease and periodontal disease share many of the same risk factors. Some of these risk factors include smoking, age and diabetes.
Other researchers have argued that inflammation is the main culprit behind the connection between dental health and heart health. Bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and make its way to the heart. After bacteria reaches the heart, it can damage the area and cause inflammation.
Making your dental health along with your overall wellness a priority is a great way to avoid the dangers of heart disease. Of course, patients can prioritize their dental health through simple steps, including brushing, flossing and going to the dentist regularly.
Additional ways to reduce your risk for periodontal disease and heart disease includes:
If you have any concerns regarding your dental health, don’t wait to address them! Here at Weston Dental Specialists, we offer a range of dental services to give you a healthy smile. Some of our cosmetic dental services include bonding, crowns, dental implants and teeth whitening. We also offer emergency dental treatment, professional cleaning and a range of other options. To get started, contact our office today to schedule your no-obligation consultation.
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