Is there a link between my heart and my teeth?

Although it is has not yet been scientifically proven, it is thought that impaired oral health could increase risk of heart disease. This may happen in one of two ways. The first way is that harmful plaque bacteria could enter the bloodstream and become attached to fatty plaques in your coronary arteries. These plaques may break off and cause the formation of a blood clot, resulting in a stroke or heart attack. The other way is that periodontal diease, which is local inflammation in the gums, can contribute to the body's overall burden of inflammation, an important factor in several health conditions, including heart disease.
Research has been inconclusive as to precisely why, but patients with gum disease are almost twice as likely to also have heart disease.

One theory is that bacteria in the mouth travels in the bloodstream into the arteries and contributes to atherosclerosis -- hardening of the arteries from build-up of a fatty substance called arterial plaque. A second theory is that bacterial infection in the mouth leads to inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This inflammation can damage the artery walls and lead to the build-up of arterial plaque that can cause heart attack, stroke and other medical problems.

Though researchers do not yet understand why there is a correlation between heart disease and gum (periodontal) disease, patients with a history of either should be sure to receive regular dental care and cardiovascular check-ups. Managing one disease may help you manage the other.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.