Heart disease prevention: Does oral health matter?
Taking care of your teeth isn't a proven way to prevent heart disease. While there appears to be some connection between oral health and heart disease, more research is needed to understand it.
Poor oral health has been debated as a possible cause of heart disease for many years. In 2012, experts from the American Heart Association reviewed the available scientific evidence and concluded that poor oral health hasn't been proved to cause heart disease — and that treating existing gum disease hasn't been proved to reduce the risk of heart disease. Still, studies have shown:
- Gum disease (periodontitis) is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can affect the heart valves. Oral health may be particularly important if you have artificial heart valves.
- Tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.
- There is a strong connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from periodontal treatment.
Even though oral health isn't a key to heart disease prevention, it's important to take care of your teeth and gums:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss daily.
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
If you're concerned about heart disease prevention, ask your doctor about proven ways to reduce your risk — such as stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.