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How Oral Health Affects Your Heart

Yes, we all know we should be brushing and flossing daily and getting in for our regular checkups, but what most  people don’t realize is that oral health can affect our overall health. Beyond just cavities and gum disease—it can affect your heart health too. Let’s delve into this vital connection and understand why taking care of your mouth is a matter of heart.

The Oral-Systemic Connection

The idea that our oral health is closely linked to our overall health is not new. However, the specific connections between oral health and heart disease are increasingly becoming a focus of medical and dental research. Studies have shown that people with gum disease (periodontitis) are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. But why is this the case?

Gum disease is an infection of the gums. The earliest stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis while the later stage is known as periodontal disease. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and serves as a gateway for bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which is opening up the doors for way more problems. These bacteria can cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels, including those in the heart, potentially leading to heart disease. The American Heart Association has highlighted research suggesting that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the association with heart disease.


The chronic inflammation caused by gum disease can elevate the body’s inflammatory response, which is a risk factor for heart disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology, there’s significant evidence linking periodontal disease with an increased risk of heart disease, primarily due to the shared inflammatory pathways.

Bacteria’s Role

The specific types of bacteria found in gum disease, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, have been detected in the atherosclerotic plaques of heart arteries. Atherosclerosis is a condition characterized by the hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to plaque buildup, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The presence of oral bacteria in these plaques suggests a direct link between the health of our mouth and the health of our heart.

What Can You Do?

So, what does this mean for you and your oral health routine? Here are a few practical tips to help protect both your oral and heart health:

  • Brush and Floss Daily: Brushing twice a day and flossing daily can significantly reduce plaque buildup and your risk of gum disease.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for both gum disease and heart disease. Quitting can improve your oral health and reduce your heart disease risk.
  • Eat a Healthy Diet: A diet low in sugar and high in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in the body and protect your gums and heart.
  • Regular Dental Checkups: Seeing your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and exams can help catch and treat gum disease early.

Finding a Primary Care Physician

Whether you are looking to switch primary care physicians or currently don’t have one, we highly recommend checking out our dear friends at Northwest Family Clinics. With three locations nearby Bassett Creek Dental they are not only a convenient choice, but they are a physician-owned practice who care deeply about their patients. You will find just about everything you need for whole body health under one roof including obstetrics, pediatric care, preventative care like regular checkups, weight loss counseling, chronic disease management, screenings like colonoscopies, urgent care hours, and much more! 

The Heart and Mouth Connection

The connection between oral health and heart health is a powerful reminder of the body’s interconnectedness. By taking care of your mouth, you’re not just protecting your teeth and gums—you’re taking a proactive step towards a healthier heart. As always, if you have concerns about your oral health or its potential impact on your heart, talk to your dentist. Together, we can work towards a comprehensive approach to your health that includes the well-being of your mouth and your heart.