What’s the simplest way to prevent a heart attack? Just keep your mouth clean by means of brushing and flossing. Experts say this simple act could save your life.
Doctors have long suspected that there may be a link between oral health and heart disease. That link became clearer after a recent study showed that those with blocked arteries had a severe case of gum disease.
At the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Vienna, Austria, French researcher Dr. Nicolas Amabile said that patients with artery disease often had bad teeth caused by periodontitis or periodontal disease.
In this condition, the gums become swollen due to the accumulation of plaque around the teeth. As the gums become irritated, they recede and there is pain when eating hot, cold or sweet foods. Untreated, teeth loosen and fall out. This can be prevented with good oral hygiene in the form of brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist.
“Your mouth is normally teeming with bacteria. Usually you can keep these bacteria under control with good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing. Saliva is also a key defense against bacteria and viruses. It contains enzymes that destroy bacteria in different ways. But harmful bacteria can sometimes grow out of control and lead to periodontitis, a serious gum infection,” warned Mayo Clinic doctors.
Amabile found that the more severe periodontitis is, the greater the risk of heart disease. He arrived at this conclusion after he and his team of French dentists and cardiologists studied 131 patients who were referred to their hospital in Marseille, France.
"The most severe teeth disease was associated with the most widespread arterial lesions. Since periodontitis is easily accessible to treatment with antibiotics and dental care, one might think its treatment could also be beneficial for coronary artery disease. This has to be confirmed with larger studies but may represent a new original approach to handle heart disease in the future." he told Jenny Hope of the Daily Mail.
Researchers have yet to discover how gum disease triggers heart disease but they suspect that bacteria from infected gums are the answer. They believe that bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and travel through the arteries to the heart, posing a risk to cardiovascular health.
“When your gums are healthy, bacteria in your mouth usually don’t enter your bloodstream. However, gum disease may provide bacteria a port of entry into your bloodstream. Sometimes invasive dental treatments can also allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. And medications or treatments that reduce saliva flow or disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth may also lead to oral changes, making it easier for bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Some researchers believe that these bacteria and inflammation from your mouth are linked to other health problems in the rest of your body,” said Mayo Clinic doctors.
To preserve your good health, don’t forget to brush daily, especially after meals. Make it a daily habit to save your heart.
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