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What is the link between tooth decay and heart disease?

While the exact reasons for the link are unknown, there is a relationship between heart disease and tooth decay. Keeping your teeth healthy makes a difference in keeping your heart healthy. Without regular cleaning, plaque builds up on your teeth and hardens into tartar. Tartar, also called calculus, can inflame your gums, making it more difficult to clean your teeth. It also makes your gums bleed more, which can allow bacteria into your bloodstream. One concern with heart disease is that bacteria from the mouth can travel through the blood to the heart, causing an infection called endocarditis. If you can keep your teeth and gums healthy, this helps to keep bacteria from traveling to your heart.
There is no conclusive research showing that tooth decay causes heart disease, but studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions including heart disease, diabetes or stroke. However, saying that two conditions are associated is not the same as saying that one causes the other. Talk to your dentist about your overall health, especially if you have had any recent illnesses or have any chronic conditions. At home, practice good oral hygiene by always brushing your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste, replacing your toothbrush every three or four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed, flossing once a day between the teeth and by remembering to eat a balanced diet and to limit between-meal snacks.

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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.