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 fully 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, many studies have shown a connection between gum disease (periodontitis) and other serious conditions, including heart disease. Research suggests that periodontitis is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease and that people with chronic gum disease have increased thickness of their neck blood vessels. There is also a strong correlation between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from professional teeth cleanings.
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.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months — or sooner if the bristles become bent.
- 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.
Last updated: October 8th, 2015