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The Link Among Oral Health, Heart Health, and Strokes

They say your eyes are the window to your soul. But did you know your mouth is the window to your overall health? That’s because when you have bacteria in your mouth, it doesn’t stay there. Instead, it travels through your digestive system and respiratory tract, which can cause several conditions that compromise your health.

At Sendero Dental Studio, our skilled dentists understand that fear or the hustle and bustle of everyday life makes it easy to postpone a routine dental checkup. However, this choice could lead to bigger problems down the road. Here's why you should make these visits a priority in your wellness regimen.

Your mouth and your body

We’ve heard it throughout our lives: We are what we eat. But, for some reason, the connection between our mouths and our whole-body health usually ends there. In reality, research shows a link between poor oral health and over 100 systemic diseases.

Your mouth interacts with the outside world on an ongoing basis through chewing, swallowing, and speaking. This is also the area where digestion begins by breaking down what you consume. It contains a unique population with more than 500-700 species of viruses, fungi, bacteria, and protozoa. Together, they make up the microbiome in your mouth.

Practicing good oral hygiene helps to keep this environment balanced and healthy. When your oral health declines, the delicate balance in this microbiome deteriorates, and bacteria can multiply out of control. 

As bacteria builds up along your teeth and gums, it triggers inflammation and infection. This dental issue — known in the early stages as gingivitis and as gum disease and periodontitis when advanced — puts you at risk of both tooth and bone loss in your mouth. 

But it doesn’t stop there.

Your immune system and your oral health

Just because bacteria and infection begin in your mouth doesn’t mean that’s where it stays. Instead, it enters your bloodstream through your respiratory and digestive tracts, where it moves freely throughout your entire body. In response, your immune system kicks in to fight the infection by triggering inflammation.

Unfortunately, chronic inflammation can lead to a number of systemic conditions and diseases, including everything from diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis to osteoporosis. It’s also linked to life-threatening health complications, like heart disease and stroke.

Heart disease

It’s hard to believe, but your body has 40 billion blood vessels. That also makes it easy for the harmful effects of inflammation to build up anywhere in the arteries supplying blood to your heart and brain. As these arteries narrow, your risk of serious heart complications increases.

Each year, 32-50% of deaths in the United States occur because of heart disease. In the past, doctors focused primarily on other risk factors for this condition, like diabetes, hypertension, smoking, and high cholesterol. However, evidence increasingly shows poor oral hygiene is a significant risk factor for heart disease.

Stroke

Approximately 87% of all strokes occur because of a blockage in a blood vessel inside the brain. 

During a four-year study at Tampere University Hospital in Finland, experts found that 84% of participants — or 63 individuals — had bacteria DNA in their blood. Of these participants, 59 had a strain of streptococci present. This bacteria is typically found in the mouth and can lead to infection if they enter your bloodstream. It’s also believed to cause an infection in the valves, muscles, or lining of the heart.

So, you can see, having bacteria in your mouth doesn’t mean it will stay there.

Protecting your oral health — and your whole body

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to avoid these health risks, and it all starts with taking good care of your mouth.

Our team recommends brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling a professional cleaning every six months. These steps will keep your mouth healthy and enable us to treat potential dental issues before they become serious.

Don’t wait to schedule your visit. Contact our office in Ladera Ranch, California, by calling 949-284-6556 or requesting an appointment online today.

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