Oral & Vision Health Blog

Taking Care of Your Oral Health for a Healthy Heart

It is increasingly recognized that your mouth's health can significantly impact the health of your entire body, including your heart. That is why it is crucial to go to the dentist and care for your teeth and gums.

Inflammation in the mouth can lead to bacteria traveling through the bloodstream to the rest of the body, including the heart and brain. To give you a game plan, we will examine the connections between oral and heart health and how you can care for both. 


Key Takeaways:

  • There is a strong connection between oral health and heart health.
  • Chronic gum disease has been associated with other chronic diseases, including coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease and protect your heart.
  • You can promote oral and heart health by eating a balanced diet, engaging in exercise, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and limiting alcohol consumption.

AdobeStock_543725614Understanding Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and surrounding tissues that support your teeth. Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums. Signs of gum disease include inflammation, bleeding gums, bad breath, and, in severe cases, tooth loss.

AdobeStock_444803659The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

According to the American Heart Association, Chronic gum inflammation has been associated with other chronic diseases, including coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes. 


When you have gum disease, bacteria from the infected gums can enter the bloodstream and travel to other body parts, including the arteries. Once in the arteries, these bacteria can cause inflammation and damage arterial walls, leading to plaque formation. This plaque buildup can restrict blood flow to the heart and increase the risk of heart disease.


Another study shows gum disease can cause a 19% increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. That risk increases to 44% in patients 65 and over.

Taking Care of Your Heart Through Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene not only benefits your teeth and gums but also plays a role in protecting your heart. Here are steps you can take to help your mouth and heart:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily: Brush your teeth thoroughly with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush for at least two minutes, making sure to clean all surfaces of your teeth and along the gumline.
  • Floss daily: Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles between your teeth and the gum line. Take your time and floss gently to avoid injuring your gums.
  • Use mouthwash: Rinse your mouth with mouthwash after brushing and flossing. An antibacterial mouthwash can help kill bacteria and reduce the risk of gum disease. 
  • Visit your dentist: This is valuable for the prevention and early detection of gum disease. It is worth sharing your medical history, current conditions, and any recent changes in oral health care routines or newly developed oral health symptoms. Your dentist can make individual recommendations based on your needs. 

Additional Steps for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle

In addition to maintaining good oral hygiene, there are other steps you can take to promote heart health: 

  • Eat a balanced diet: A nutritious diet supports oral and heart health. You will want to eat nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of processed foods and sugary snacks and beverages.
  • Engage in regular physical activity: You can practice walking, swimming, or cycling. You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous weekly exercise. 
  • Work to manage stress: Chronic stress can affect oral and heart health. It is worth looking into meditation or relaxation techniques, engaging in hobbies, or seeking support from family and friends.
  • Get enough sleep: One in three adults in the U.S. report a lack of sleep. This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and other health problems. You should get seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol use can contribute to the development of heart disease. The recommended limit is one drink per day for women and two for men.
  • Avoid tobacco: Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are major risk factors for heart disease.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist and to wash away food particles and bacteria. Water also supports overall hydration and cardiovascular health.
  • Take your medications: If prescribed, keep up with your dosages. You can discuss questions and side effects of any medications with your doctor and pharmacy.

To sum up the oral health and heart health connection, prevention is key. Even minor changes to your daily routine can have a significant impact overall. We wish you the best in your journey to optimal health.

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