Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk
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In the UK there are more than 100,000 hospital admissions each year due to heart attacks or heart disease which equates to roughly one every five minutes. Reducing your risk of heart disease can come down to more than just the foods you eat. Daily habits can either help or hinder your risk with your teeth being a surprising risk factor.
Healthy teeth and gums may also reduce your risk of clogged arteries.
The link between oral and cardiovascular health, inflammation can lead to both gum disease and obstructive arterial plaque.
Along with the impact on healthy teeth and gums, new research suggests that flossing also correlates to cardiology.
A recent study shows people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease.
Such a strong link between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease makes the simple task of flossing an integral habit for a healthy heart.
Researchers also believe that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and contribute to damaging systemic inflammation.
Dr Richard Marques said: “If left untreated, gum disease (or periodontitis) can increase the risk of all sorts of health conditions including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even dementia.
“This is once again due to harmful mouth bacteria or the infection in the gum entering the bloodstream and affecting the body.
“Tooth infections can also cause heart palpitations as the body is fighting to control the infection (the heart has to work harder for circulation during these times).”
The bacteria that infect the gums and cause gingivitis and periodontitis also travel to blood vessels elsewhere in the body where they cause blood vessel inflammation and damage; tiny blood clots, heart attack and stroke may follow, said Harvard Health.
The health site continued: “Rather than bacteria causing the problem, it’s the body’s immune response – inflammation – that sets off a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain.
“Whether the link is direct, indirect or coincidence, a healthy mouth and a regimen to keep it that way (including not smoking and getting regular dental care) can help you keep your teeth.
“That’s reason enough to do what you can to make oral health a priority.”
The best way to treat gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene, said the NHS.
BHF continued: “Additional dental and medical treatments are sometimes also necessary.
“Good oral hygiene involves brushing your teeth for about two minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and on one other occasion.
“Floss your teeth using interdental brushes regularly.
“Not smoking will also help to prevent gum disease.”
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