The Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease

The Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease

At our Erie dental practice, we understand that for a lot of patients their oral health only relates to the health of your teeth and gums. While brushing and flossing daily does help to keep a smile looking its best, practicing quality oral hygiene at home offers far more benefits than you might initially think.

The idea that our oral health may have the ability to impact our overall health has been around for more than a century, but it has only been over the last few decades that research has been strongly able to connect these two seemingly disparate health conditions.

A variety of studies have examined how our oral health impact our overall health, and many have found some surprising results. Researchers have found that individuals suffering from dental decay, gum disease and permanent tooth loss have a significantly higher risk for a range of chronic health conditions that include diabetes, stroke, arthritis, dementia and cancer. While what causes many of these discovered links remains a bit of a mystery, there’s one connection that researchers are beginning to better understand by the day – the connection between our oral health and heart disease.

The Mouth/Body Connection

An ongoing study has discovered some preliminary findings that suggest how your teeth age can also serve as an indication of how your heart is doing.

The study – conducted by researchers at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans – marks the first to examine the effects tooth loss during midlife could have on an individual’s heart health. Previous research took a cumulative look at tooth loss that included those lost in childhood and during a patient’s teeth years due to trauma, cavities and even braces, according to researchers.

As part of the ongoing study, researchers analyzed studies that had a large participant base of adults between the ages of 45 to 69 who did not exhibit the traits of cardiovascular disease and the self-reported number of permanent teeth they had remaining. In a follow-up questionnaire, participants were asked to report any recent tooth loss that had occurred during an 8-year period. Researchers followed the prevalence of heart disease among participants with no tooth loss, one tooth lost and two or more teeth lost over a 12 to 18-year period.

Researchers discovered that losing two or more teeth during middle age was linked with an increased risk of heart disease.

“The mouth can be a good warning sign,” wrote researchers. “Patients with periodontitis often have risk factors that not only put their mouth at risk, but their heart and blood vessels, too. But whether one causes the other has not actually been shown.”

A 2018 study conducted by the American Heart Association found that people with 25 to 32 natural teeth who lost two or more teeth had a 23 percent increase risk of developing heart disease. Those with fewer than 17 of their permanent teeth remaining at the beginning of the study had a 25 percent increased risk for heart disease.

Protecting Your Oral Health

At Impressions Dental, our team of experienced dentists at our Erie dental practice can help to protect your long-term oral and overall health. By scheduling regular exams and cleanings, you can successfully lower your risk for the oral health problems most directly linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other significant issues that could cause lasting problems.

Don’t ignore the effect your oral health can have on your overall health, contact our office today to schedule your next dental exam and cleaning with the team at Impressions Dental.

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