Are you not brushing your teeth at night? Are you ignoring your oral hygiene? Well, if experts are to be believed, you are risking not your gum health and compromising on a healthy smile, you might be even putting your cardiovascular health at great risk. In recent years, research has uncovered a strong association between oral hygiene and cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease. Dr Sameer Gupta, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Group Director – Cath Labs, Director – Metro Group of Hospitals, and Dr Suman Yadav, Director, Healthy Dentzz, Professor at I. T . S Dental College Muradnagar and Head of Maxillofacial & Dental Department at Numed Hospital, Noida, explore the incidence, risk factors, causes, pathophysiology, and actionable steps you can take to improve your oral hygiene and protect your heart.
Incidence and Risk Factors
Doctors say that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and maintaining good oral hygiene may play a crucial role in reducing its incidence. Periodontal disease, a common oral condition, has been found to contribute to the development of coronary heart disease. Studies have shown that individuals with periodontal infections, caused by bacteria in the gums and teeth, are more likely to have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. However, it is important to note that the relationship between the two is still being researched and further evidence is needed, say Dr Sameer Gupta and Dr Suman Yadav.
Causes And Pathophysiology
Periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, occur due to the buildup of dental plaque and subsequent inflammation of the gum tissues. “This inflammation can lead to the destruction of supporting tissues, including the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. The same bacteria responsible for periodontal diseases can also enter the bloodstream and trigger systemic inflammation, potentially contributing to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries,” say Dr Sameer Gupta and Dr Suman Yadav.
Steps To Take To Keep Cardiovascular Diseases At Bay
Dr Sameer Gupta and Dr Suman Yadav mention the following actionable steps:
1. Maintain a Consistent Oral Hygiene Routine: Brush your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush. Don’t forget to floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth.
2. Visit Your Dentist Regularly: Schedule routine dental check-ups and professional cleanings every six months. Your dentist can detect early signs of gum disease and provide guidance on maintaining optimal oral health.
3. Quit Smoking: Smoking is not only harmful to your lungs but also increases the risk of periodontal disease and cardiovascular conditions. Seek support and resources to help you quit smoking and improve your overall health.
4. Eat a Balanced Diet: A nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can support oral and cardiovascular health. Limit your intake of sugary and processed foods, as they can contribute to dental plaque formation.
5. Manage Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to oral health problems and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in regular physical activity, and seeking support from loved ones or professionals.
6. Be Aware of Medications: Some medications, such as certain antihypertensive drugs, can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth can increase the risk of dental decay and gum disease. If you experience dry mouth, talk to your dentist or healthcare provider about potential solutions.
7. Control Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease and cardiovascular complications. Keep your blood sugar levels under control and work closely with your healthcare team to manage your diabetes effectively.
8. Practice Good Overall Health Habits: Maintaining good overall health can contribute to better oral health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This includes getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and practicing good hygiene habits like washing your hands regularly