Is there a relationship between dental hygiene and heart problems ?? Most of the ordinary citizens will say a definite NO. How can there be any connection between heart diseases and oral hygiene.
But in today’s world when our precious heart is withstanding loads from all sides in the conquest of pumping the blood and keeping us alive , we should be very careful not to add any additional burden on our heart. In this regard dental hygiene is of great importance . Compared to other factors that affect heart ( cholesterol , lily foods , pollution . obesity etc) Oral Hygiene may no appear very important .
But on the contrary (as it has been proved in many researches recently) bad Oral Hygiene is acting as a starting point for heart problems and in the cases with an established heart problem bad oral hygiene acts as a major aggravating factor.
What consists a Healthy Oral Hygiene ??
Healthy gums are firm, light pink, and very elastic.
If you have reddened or inflamed gum tissue, or gums that bleed after brushing or after you eat hard foods, or if your gums are sensitive to the touch and pressure (tenderness) , or bad breath especially when you first get up in the morning – seek professional-dental help. Gum disease if left to go to long will develop toxins which spread the infection and begin to dissolve the gum and bone tissue causing the teeth to loosen and eventually to fall out.
Healthy teeth devoid of abnormalities like dental caries , cervical abrasion , attrition , calculus and stains , mobility etc.
Any unhealthy and infected teeth if left alone for a long time acts as a focal point for accumulation of infection and the infections and microbes start spreading from here to the other systemic parts of the body including heart.
A clean tongue
A clean tongue goes a great way in maintaining good oral hygiene. An unclean tongue can literally act as a reservoir for micro-organisms and infections.
What joins poor oral hygiene to heart problems ??
Poor oral hygiene if left to go too long will develop toxins which spread the infection and begin to dissolve the gum and bone tissue causing the teeth to loosen and eventually to fall out.The infected area acts as focal point for the growth of micro organisms that gradually spread through out the body via blood stream.
It is believed that anaerobic bacteria are the culprits in destroying gums and the underlying bone. If the infection is not stopped before the bacteria travel into the blood system, then the heart may become infected. These bacteria have been found clumped together in the fatty plaque found in heart arteries. The most common bacteria present in the plaque that induces heart ailments is H.Pylori.
Few examples can be given ….
- This can be explained by the third stage of atherosclerosis which is an inflammatory response of the immune system. The body’s own defensive system reacts against the invading bacteria. As a defense response the arteries constrict complicating blood flow and increasing the risk of blood clots which may lead to a heart attack. So it seems possible that invading bacteria could encourage CHD.
- Other heart illnesses such as infective endocarditis (a serious infection of the lining of the heart) can occur. The symptoms of this disease are: always tired, constant or near constant headaches, a mild fever that can last for months, night sweats and cold chills, and possibly dark lines may develop under the fingernails.
- A person who is wearing artificial pacemaker in the heart is extremely susceptible to development of bacterial growth and infection on the artificial valves. In such cases oral hygiene control is of utmost importance.
- Periodontal Gum disease if left unchecked can also cause problems in other parts of the body. So it is important to have dental exams every six months.
What should one do to maintain oral hygiene ?
1. Brush your teeth twice a day. Bad brushing technique can actually make gum disease worse. It’s best to make a circular motion with your toothbrush, which helps the bristles clear out any debris in the gaps between the teeth and gums.Brushing should be done carefully covering all the surfaces of the teeth.( as indicated in the diagram below)
2. Antiseptic mouthwash and toothpaste.
3. Floss at least once a day. Ask your dentist to show you how to floss properly if you have any doubts on how to do it properly.
4. Use a toothbrush with soft or medium synthetic bristles that has a head small enough to comfortably reach all around your mouth.
5. Get regular checkups and cleanings every six months. Some people may need to make them more frequently . Follow the instructions of the dentist.
6. Stop smoking – the American Academy of Periodontology points out that smoking may be one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease.
7. Eat healthy foods Drink healthy – a good balanced diet with adequate vitamins and nutrients of the body . Minerals will build up your immune system. In this way your body can fight off infection and heal better. Excess consumption of alcohol can also cause decreased resistance to infections.