Healthy smiles, healthy hearts
How you care for your teeth and gums may play a role in your heart health.
Studies have shown that both periodontal (gum) disease and heart disease have similar underlying causes including age, tobacco use, genetics, stress, medications, poor nutrition and obesity.1
However, another factor is the buildup of dental plaque over time. Gingivitis, an early state of gum disease, occurs when bacteria in the mouth grow into plaque, causing inflammation and bleeding in the gums.1 When left untreated, plaque can spread below the gum line, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Because of the inflammation and spread of bacteria into the bloodstream, it’s believed that there is an increased risk for other systemic diseases such as heart disease.2
Although more than 70 percent of Americans ages 65 and older have gum disease, there is good news.1 You can reduce your risk of heart disease and gum disease by practicing good oral health habits every day. Regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups are important for your smile and your heart.
Talk to your dentist if you notice any of these indicators of gum disease:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way the teeth fit together when biting
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
This information is available for download as an oral health flier.
1 American Academy of Periodontology, “Gum Disease and Heart Disease,” web.
2 Van Dyke TE, Van Winkelhoff AJ: “Infection and inflammatory mechanisms,” Journal of Periodontology 84, S1–S7 (2013).