Dental health is very important not only for its own sake but also because of the influence it has on heart health. It is especially crucial in times of the pandemic when many dental clinics are closed and it is difficult to get medical help on time.
According to studies, having an untreated dental infection can increase the risk of heart disease up to 2.7 times, says British dentist Richard Marques. The bacteria that cause the infection hide in the plaque that stays in the lower parts of the teeth near the gums if you don’t brush carefully.
“This is because the infection enters the bloodstream and travels to the heart. Dental infections (such as dental abscesses) can travel to the brain (especially when it comes to upper molars) due to the proximity of the roots of the teeth to this area. That’s why timely treatment of dental infections is so important,” Marques said.
Dental infections can also cause heart palpitations, as the body is struggling to control the infection and the heart has to work harder for circulation during these times.
The opposite also applies. Heart problems themselves can cause pain in different areas such as the arms and chest, head, and even teeth.
Over the years, many studies have found that people with gum disease are more likely to also have poor heart health, including heart attacks.
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“If left untreated, gum disease – periodontitis – can increase the risk of all kinds of health problems including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even dementia,” the doctor warned.
This is once again due to harmful bacteria in the mouth or gum infection that enters the bloodstream and affects the body, he detailed.
For oral health in general, Marques gave three tips:
- Eat less sugar, since harmful oral bacteria feed on this substance;
- Brushing twice a day, ideally with an electric toothbrush but a good manual brushing for two or three minutes will also be enough to remove plaque and bacteria;
- Visit a dentist and hygienist at least every six months or more often if you belong to a risk category.