In recent years, the need to have better dental hygiene has reverberated. The response of some people may be due to their fear of losing a tooth or more which could affect normal everyday use of the mouth. From the perspective of medical professionals and researchers, however, dental health goes beyond eating and talking; it could impact on the heart. A report by European Society of Cardiology done on one million people, showed relationships between poor oral health and later coronary heart disease.
The link between these two conditions have repeated themselves in several studies. In the words of Robert H. Shmerling, MD, “study after study has shown that people who have poor oral health (such as gum disease or tooth loss) have higher rates of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke than people with good oral health”.
The information provided in this series ‘Your Guide to Health’ are based, in part, on the book “Your Guide to Health” written by Dr. Clifford Russell Anderson. The following is meant as public enlightenment rather than as an alternative to engaging the services of a qualified medical professional. ‘Your Guide To Health’ is available on Amazon.
A number of theories have been proposed, including:
- The bacteria that infect the gums and cause gingivitis and periodontitis also travel to blood vessels elsewhere in the body where they cause blood vessel inflammation and damage; tiny blood clots, heart attack and stroke may follow. Supporting this idea is the finding of remnants of oral bacteria within atherosclerotic blood vessels far from the mouth. Then again, antibiotic treatment has not proven effective at reducing cardiovascular risk.
- Rather than bacteria causing the problem, it’s the body’s immune response – inflammation – that sets off a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain.
- There may be no direct connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease; the reason they may occur together is that there is a 3rd factor (such as smoking) that’s a risk factor for both conditions. Other potential “confounders” include poor access to healthcare and lack of exercise – perhaps people without health insurance or who don’t take good care of their overall health are more likely to have poor oral health and heart disease.
The 3 dimensional (at source) photo above shows a nexus of blood vessels and nerves within the hollow segment of a tooth. From the colour coding, red are the arteries, blue are the veins and yellow are the nerves. General knowledge about arteries states that: The arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues of the body.
In the absence of contrary evidence, it is safe for people to take as important dental health.
Here is a helpful video “How dental health may be linked to cardiovascular disease” http://www.facebook.com/simplyhealthuk
- European Society of Cardiology, ESC (2018); Oral Health and Later Coronary Heart Disease: Cohort Study of One Million People, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology
- Gum disease and the connection to heart disease – https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/gum-disease-and-the-connection-to-heart-disease#:~:text=For%20me%2C%20it’s%20been%20one,people%20with%20good%20oral%20health