Heart Disease Linked to Poor Oral Hygiene
This year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is estimated to claim 600,000 lives. That, easily, makes heart disease America’s number one killer!
Right now you are wondering why in the heck I am talking to you about heart disease. What could I possibly be thinking, you might even wonder if I hit my head or have heatstroke. After all a Dental Expert spouting off statistics about heart disease is a bit strange. Here’s the surprising thing: It’s not. Did you know that heart disease and poor oral hygiene are linked?
Our mouths are a pathway into our body, the bacteria and viruses that we are exposed to, or that are growing in our mouth, can pass into our bloodstream. That is true particularly when there is significant inflammation and disease in and around our gums. There can be between 500 and 1000 DIFFERENT types of bacteria in the average mouth. Every surface in your mouth grows bacteria. Some are beneficial, some are really dangerous. A clean and healthy mouth is likely to have 100,000 to 500,000 bacteria swimming around, a mouth that is not well taken care of, a dirty mouth, it can have over a million bacteria just hanging out causing inflammation and gingivitis and rot.
What we know definitively is that the more bacteria you have in your mouth the higher the likelihood you are going to have more bad bacteria than good ones. We also know that bacteria in the bloodstream can stick to heart valves as well as cause blood clots. Bacteria sticking to heart valves can damage and even destroy the valves. Additionally the bacteria in the bloodstream can attach to the walls of blood vessels increasing the chance to create clots.
Cancer and Oral Hygiene
There are undisputed and definitive links between throat cancer and oral health and hygiene. In one study patients who rated their oral health as “poor” were at an over all at a higher risk for testing positive for precancerous cells. Cells that can eventually lead to cancer. It’s already known that poor oral hygiene is tied to a heightened risk of oropharyngeal cancer. With just under 12,000 cases of oropharyngeal cancer that occur among Americans each year, it’s a safe assumption that if you could drastically reduce your risk with good oral hygiene you would.
Your Healthy Mouth Keeps the Rest of You Healthy.
Science hasn’t yet answered all the questions about how the health of our mouth will and can affect our overall health, but as a medical professional I feel compelled to advocate and educate so that we can each make choices that give the biggest positive impact to our bodies.
It’s Prevention Medicine at its Best!
Good habits of brushing and flossing might be the most basic route to reduce these risks. Two simple things, yet fundamental, that get rid of bacteria trying to stick to the surfaces in our mouth, eventually forming plaque. Every time you skip brushing or flossing you give bacteria a better environment to grow in and for plaque. Plaque that can cause inflammation, inflammation that is believed to be linked to the root of other serious health issues.
Eat a healthy diet and stay away from excess sugar and starchy carbs as these feed the bacteria the sugars they need to thrive. All kinds of things we eat can impact how clean and healthy our mouths stay here are some great tips on foods that are especially good.
As always if you have questions we would love to hear schedule a visit or a consultation and help you get the healthiest mouth possible.