Skip to main content

Oral health and your heart

Practicing good oral hygiene and having regular check-ups with your dentist may lower your risk for heart disease.

When it comes to your teeth, brushing and flossing daily is always recommended – but not just for the health of your mouth. While there is no direct link between oral health and heart disease, research suggests there could be factors that increase your risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular emergency.

Here’s what we know:

  • Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is caused by a plaque buildup around your teeth
  • Plaque buildup can lead to inflammation and a bacterial infection in the blood, which can then impact certain functions of the heart
  • Chronic or long-term inflammation is a key contributor to many health problems, especially atherosclerosis – a buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances on your artery walls
  • Many people with heart disease have healthy gums, and not everyone with gum disease develops heart problems

Since plaque buildup is one of the major risk factors of developing gum disease, you should always be aware of what’s going on inside your mouth.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

Tips to reduce risk of developing gum disease

  • Brush your teeth after meals (at least twice daily)
  • Floss daily and use mouthwash
  • Have an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE)
  • Schedule regular checkups with your dentist

Tips to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Exercise daily (at least 30 to 60 minutes)
  • Avoid using or smoking tobacco products
  • Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep
  • Manage stress by exercising or practicing relaxation methods like meditation
  • Schedule regular checkups with your doctor especially if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes