You may have heard that not taking care of your teeth and gums can lead to other serious health problems, including heart disease. But how does this happen? While researchers have not yet definitively proven the correlation, studies have indicated that bacteria entering the bloodstream through the mouth and gums may cause inflammation. Researchers in the journal Cellular Microbiology conducted a study to explore ways bacteria might “colonize” the heart, leading to cardiovascular disease. Using human cells, the researchers demonstrated that the oral bacterium P. gingivalis uses finger-like appendages to attach to and invade cells lining the heart’s aorta, the largest artery in the body.
After the bacterium gained entry, the researchers noticed signs of inflammatory changes that may lead to clogging in the aorta (and eventually a heart attack). Another study in 2006 showed that nearly 85 percent of people with coronary atherosclerotic heart disease also had periodontal (gum) disease. These strong links show exactly why it is important to take care of your teeth and gums. By keeping your mouth as free of harmful bacteria as possible, you may be able to help keep your arteries clear, as well. Ask your True Care Advantage dentist about oral health practices (particularly flossing) that will help. He or she can give you excellent tips to keep your mouth – and body – healthy.