“Is There a Connection Between Heart Disease and Oral Health?”

The American Dental Association recognizes an association between periodontal disease and other illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.  Since February is designated as heart health awareness month, our staff at Lake Forest Dental Arts would like to inform our readers about the link between heart disease and oral health.

How Oral Health Can Affect Your Heart

It is important that we distinguish correlation from causation. Research does not indicate that oral health problems directly cause heart conditions. However, studies do indicate that poor oral health is a risk factor for heart disease. One reason for this is that patients with poor oral health tend to have a higher concentration of harmful bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria present on the teeth and gums are capable of entering the blood stream. Some research indicates that when these bacteria enter the bloodstream, they attach to fatty deposits in the coronary arteries. If blood clots form under these circumstances, these bacteria may contribute to heart attack or stroke. Another study suggests that gum tissue inflammation from periodontitis may increase the risk of plaque building up in arteries as well. Arterial plaque buildup restricts blood flow and strains the heart’s ability to pump blood.

Important Oral Hygiene Practices for Heart Health

Dr. James Fondriest encourages his patients to adopt a thorough oral hygiene regimen. Patients should make sure to brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time and floss daily. We also recommend that our patients replace their toothbrush at least every three months because bacteria collect on the bristles. In addition, make sure to rinse your toothbrush with water after every use and store it in an upright position so that it can dry.

For questions or to schedule an appointment at our Chicago area dentist office, contact us at (847) 234-0517. We serve patients from Lake Forest and the surrounding Chicago neighborhoods.