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The Link Between Oral Health and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

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Many of us understand the importance of good oral hygiene as it ensures that our teeth and mouth stay healthy, which reduces the risk of problems such as cavities, bad breath and tooth loss.

However, oral health may also have protective benefits that affect other parts of the body.

According to Helen Flaherty, director of health promotion and education at Heart Research UK, gum disease can increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

She explained: “You may have heard the phrase that health begins in the mouth. This is because good oral health is vital not only to your overall health, but to your overall well-being. There is growing evidence that Oral health can make a big difference to other organs of the body, including the heart.”

Gum disease and bacteria

“Our mouth is a natural home to many diverse microbes,” Flaherty said. “This unique oral microbiome plays an important role in shaping and regulating our health by maintaining a dynamic environment that protects the oral cavity, prevents disease progression, and aids in the initial process of digestion. Overall, the immune system keeps “our bodies in balance by watching out for harmful bacteria, thus preventing any infection or disease. However, in cases of poor oral hygiene, harmful bacteria thrive and invade the body’s protective barriers and lead to tooth decay and gingivitis.”

And continued: “One of the most common dental diseases is gum disease, which begins with gingivitis. This initial stage is represented by an increase in the accumulation of plaque containing bacteria that irritate the soft tissues, resulting in redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. Gingivitis can be easily cured if brushed regularly.Brushing and flossing are part of your daily routine.

How does it affect the heart?

“In the absence of oral hygiene, the disease progresses from gingivitis to periodontitis, which is more aggressive due to the presence of many complex bacteria,” Flaherty explained.

The inflammatory response causes the inner layer of gum and bone to be shed from the tooth, resulting in pockets around the teeth, which increases the chance of waste buildup and infection.

She continued: “Periodontitis is one of the main causes of tooth loss in adults. Evidence suggests that the main link between heart health and gum disease is the spread of oral bacteria to distant parts of the body through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they the ability to provoke an inflammatory reaction in vulnerable areas.

As a result, conditions such as endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and its valves) can occur.

Recent studies have also shown the presence of periodontal bacteria found in hardened arteries, suggesting the impact of poor oral hygiene on cardiovascular disease.

Six symptoms of gum disease to look out for:

Gum redness, swelling, or tenderness to the touch

Bleeding gums when brushing your teeth, flossing, or eating

Purulent discharge from the gums

Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth

Receding gum line

Pulling gums away from teeth or teeth moving when touched

Source: Express

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