When it comes to heart health, you would certainly be forgiven for not directly connecting it to oral health. Most of us think high cholesterol levels are the biggest culprit in causing cardiovascular disease. This is a mainstream mantra. Yet as research has progressed, our understanding has evolved. We now know that people with unhealthy gums1https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8292096/ face an increased risk of heart and blood vessel problems.
It might seem strange that our mouths and hearts are intimately linked — especially given the significant distance between them. But when we delve deeper, we see what is not immediately obvious.
Over 600 bacterial species live within the mouth. It’s a hubbub of activity! There are both good and bad bugs. When the balance swings in favor of the latter, periodontal pathogens2https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-59016-0 thrive. They erode and inflame the teeth and gums. This is where the problem starts.
Inflamed or bleeding gums allow harmful bugs to enter the superhighway of the body — the bloodstream.
Imagine a city. Once on the road network you can easily drive to other areas, including those that are far away. In the case of the body, the roads are your blood vessels; the arteries are the arterials. Because of this, bugs that pass through the gums and into the bloodstream can travel widely.
As periodontal bugs appear on the radar in new sites, the body mounts an immune response to protect against this foreign invasion — the aim is to maim and eliminate the threat. Immune cells are called in and inflammation results.
Why does inflammation matter?
When periodontal disease remains active, bugs like Streptococcus gordonii continue to gain access to systemic circulation. They can directly attack the heart causing endocarditis (inflammation of the heart lining). They can also trigger low-grade inflammation. This process — inflammation — plays a major role in all phases of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease3https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17942804/.
Given the important connection between heart and oral health…
How can you maintain good oral health?
A regular oral routine can profoundly alter your health. Tongue scraping, flossing consistently and brushing your teeth (at least 2 x a day) significantly decreases the number of pathogenic microbes. Yes, the same ones associated with dental and cardiovascular diseases.
But what does that look like?
The simplest way to stick to a daily routine is to have a structured plan. Set steps that you follow — day in, day out. You’ll soon feel strange if you skip this oral ritual. DrTung’s essential daily routine is designed with evidence and expertise in mind, to maximize your results and protect your health.
Next up, flossing — This step is essential in removing plaque and food bits from all those nooks and crannies between your teeth and below the gum line that cause bacteria and plaque buildup. Suggested: Smart Floss (also now available in paperboard packaging) or Activated Charcoal Floss.
Brush your teeth better — An important part of the routine is brushing your teeth. We know, obvious, right? Dental experts have been encouraging us to brush regularly for so long it is (hopefully) second nature. Suggested: Ionic Toothbrush which uses ionic action to remove 48% more plaque.
While the research shows that oral bacteria are linked to heart disease, consciously caring for your mouth and teeth is a protective, cost effective strategy. This daily routine enhances a gorgeous smile, provides fresh breath and will protect your oral and heart health, now and into the future.