Preventing heart disease can be difficult when you have a genetic predisposition to it, but it's still possible. You can increase your odds even more in your favor if you take good care of your oral health. This is why.
Bacteria and the Heart
Gum disease doesn't develop all on its own. It's a combination of bacteria, poor oral hygiene, and an excess of sugar or carbohydrates. The sugar and carbs that aren't cleared away quickly feed the bacteria, allowing them to reproduce and make more of themselves.
Unfortunately, bacteria rarely stay in one place. Infections spread, after all. When you have uncontrolled oral bacteria with a condition like gum disease, those bacteria can potentially migrate into the bloodstream. Once they are there, they go wherever the blood supply goes. Until your immune system destroys them, they can potentially do damage to the walls of your heart, as well as your arteries and veins.
If this sounds absurd, it really isn't. Studies have shown that there's a link between gum disease and cardiovascular diseases, and it's believed that bacteria is one reason why.
Plaque and Arteries
When bacteria feed, they produce plaque, which can eventually harden into tartar and cause cavities. Long before it gets to that point, though, an excess of plaque could potentially be doing a number on your body.
It's now believed that plaque can effectively break off into your bloodstream. This means that it can travel through the body just like bacteria do. This is part of why scientists and doctors are alarmed at discovering that oral plaque has been found in the brains of people with dementia.
That same plaque in your mouth can also contribute to damage in your arteries. It causes inflammation wherever it goes, which can be damaging. However, the same plaque that's in your mouth can also lead to blockages in your arteries. This further increases your risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.
What to Do
Obviously, if you want to take care of your heart, you need to do all the good stuff. Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. But taking good care of your oral health should be just as high on the list as any of those, too.
Seeing a dentist on a regular basis and following their directions for your home oral care routine will reduce your risk of developing gum disease. This will help to prevent bacteria from becoming widespread and making it to your blood. Regular cleanings will also clear away excess plaque and tartar before it can become a problem for your body, too.
If you're serious about taking care of your cardiovascular health, make seeing a dentist on a regular basis part of your health routine. If you do suspect you may have gum disease, consider seeing a periodontist.