Most everyone knows that poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay and gum disease; however, many people are shocked to learn that it can also lead to cardiovascular health problems, such as endocarditis.
Believe it or not, your mouth and teeth play a large role in determining your overall health. People with decaying teeth, gum disease and untreated cavities are more likely to suffer from other health problems when compared to others with good oral and dental health. The anatomy of the mouth greatly impacts how healthy the rest of the body is or isn’t.
How Bacteria Travel
Poor dental hygiene, such as inadequate flossing, creates the perfect environment for plaque and bacteria build-up. With excess levels of bacteria in the mouth, especially on the teeth and gums, there is a higher chance of some of the bacteria traveling elsewhere in the body. If oral bacteria enter the bloodstream, the harmful agents can travel to any organ, including the heart. If the bacteria enters the veins and arteries connected to the heart, it can cause blood clots which can then lead to endocarditis. Endocarditis means that the lining of the heart, as well as the heart’s valves, have become inflamed, which can lead to heart arrhythmias, brain damage, heart valve damage, and possibly stroke.
According to Dr. Mark Dunayer, who has a dental practice in West Nyack, NY, patients often underestimate the impact of good and bad dental hygiene on the rest of the body.
“Most people don’t equate mediocre dental hygiene with heart disease,” he said. “But the consequences of not keeping regular dental hygiene appointments can be serious. Sure, you’ll experience decay in your teeth; but that’s just the beginning of the trouble.”
Oral Bacteria Can Ruin Your Heart
Streptococcus gordonii is one bacteria that may lead to failing heart health. The bacteria is a very common inhabitant of the mouth and is known to play a role in plaque formation on the teeth and gums. With an overabundance of this bacteria, some of it may enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums. Gums can bleed for a variety of reasons, such as brushing too hard, or due to more serious complications, such as gum disease. This means the bacteria can travel freely throughout the body and there is truly no telling what parts it may damage; however, usually, the heart is at the highest risk.
Keeping tabs on your overall health starts with a healthy mouth, teeth and gums. Even the healthiest of hearts can be damaged due to poor oral and dental hygiene; however, routine trips to the dentist for thorough examinations and cleanings are a great start to a healthy mouth and heart.
Ashley Page is acting content-warrior-princess for Off-Topic Media. Photo by Thierry Geoffroy. OTM would like to thank Dr. Mark Dunayer for taking a moment to share his important warning. You can contact him at his Rockland County cosmetic dentistry office at:
B & D Dental Excellence
1 Crosfield Avenue
West Nyack, NY 10994