LivingDid you know that if you don't brush your...

Did you know that if you don't brush your teeth you have a higher risk of heart attack?

Good dental hygiene habits start from childhood, and they are one of the most important measures to keep us healthy, among other things, because healthy teeth allow us proper nutrition and speech .

Proper dental hygiene includes daily care of the teeth by brushing them with toothpaste and brush, as well as flossing . But “daily” does not strictly mean once a day, in fact the usual recommendation is to brush your teeth at least twice a day , in the morning and at night, although the ideal would be after each meal.

What we should all know is that healthy teeth are not only a matter of oral health, but also help us eliminate bacteria from our mouth that can threaten other parts of our body . In other words, the fact that your mouth is sick can cause other diseases to develop in your body that can be fatal.

Today, there is a lot of research on the connection between oral health and the cardiovascular system . It has been suggested on more than one occasion that people with poor oral health tend to have higher rates of cardiovascular (heart and brain) problems than people who take good care of their mouths.

 

Why do you think they are connected?

Among all the existing theories, the one that fits the most at the moment is that the bacteria in the mouth can not only infect the gums, but also pass into the bloodstream from the small blood vessels that run through our mouth. If a wound or gum becomes infected and this infection passes into the bloodstream, the infection can spread to other parts of the body where it can cause inflammation and infection , including the heart.

And if only everything were as simple as that, because it would be enough to brush your teeth whenever you wanted and, as long as there were no infections, there would be nothing to worry about. But things get a bit more complicated. Surely you have noticed that under the tongue you have a lot of tiny capillaries that can be seen with the naked eye . What if I told you that these capillaries have a direct connection to the superior vena cava ? Well, I’m sure you’ll be left with the same face, but what if I told you that this vein is the most important in our body and that it’s the one with direct access to the heart? It’s a little more scary now.

We have already mentioned that poor oral hygiene can cause bacteria from our mouth to pass into our bloodstream in one way or another, and if that happens, an infection can spread that can end up affecting any part of the body.

 

Controversy Between Studies

Although it is true that there are many studies that conclude that good oral hygiene , in addition to recurrent visits to the dentist, reduces the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, not all studies agree .

In 2018, a study was published that analyzed no more and no less than one million people in search of the relationship between oral health and cardiovascular disease . The researchers wondered if the rest of the studies had been focused correctly until now or if they had left something in the pipeline. Apparently previous studies had not taken into account other confounding factors that could increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions in the people studied, such as smoking, so the relationship that had been found so far could not be causal.

In this way, although poor oral hygiene has been considered a cardiovascular risk factor until now, there are not enough data to create a causal link , since there are many other risk factors to take into account that can create confusion in studies .

 

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a serious gum disease caused by infection . It is one of the main reasons why (definitive) teeth can fall out. It is characterized by the presence of pain, inflammation and bleeding of the gums, as well as bad breath and loose teeth.

Its initial phase is called gingivitis , and it only presents with redness and swelling of the gums and great ease of bleeding, but without pain and without loose teeth. It is usually due to the accumulation of dental plaque , an adhesive film that is deposited on the teeth full of bacteria, saliva, food debris, etc. If this plaque is not removed through oral hygiene, it can solidify and turn into tartar , which cannot be removed in the conventional way, but you have to go to the dentist yes or yes.

Although it has not been shown that there is a direct relationship between cardiovascular problems and poor oral health per se, it has been related to periodontitis. Research has concluded neglecting gum disease can be very dangerous and increase the risk of having a heart attack .

As stated above, it is possible that there is not a strictly direct connection between periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases, since, in addition to the fact that tobacco is a common risk factor in both conditions, there are numerous factors of confounding that may affect the different studies.

 

What must not be forgotten is that, whether there is a direct link between cardiovascular risk and correct oral hygiene or whether it is a simple coincidence, having a healthy mouth increases the chances of keeping your teeth longer, which is more than a reason for enough to make brushing your teeth a priority.

 

 

References:

Batty, G. D., Jung, K. J., Mok, Y., Lee, S. J., Back, J. H., Lee, S., & Jee, S. H. (2018). Oral health and later coronary heart disease: Cohort study of one million people. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 25(6), 598–605. https://doi.org/10.1177/2047487318759112

Chang, Y., Woo, H. G., Park, J., Lee, J. S., & Song, T.-J. (2020). Improved oral hygiene care is associated with decreased risk of occurrence for atrial fibrillation and heart failure: A nationwide population-based cohort study. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 27(17), 1835–1845. https://doi.org/10.1177/2047487319886018

Gao, S., Tian, J., Li, Y., Liu, T., Li, R., Yang, L., & Xing, Z. (2021). Periodontitis and Number of Teeth in the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: An Updated Meta-Analysis. Medical Science Monitor, 27. https://doi.org/10.12659/msm.930112

Haładów, A., Kaczyński, T. & Górska, R. (2016). The link between periodontitis and pancreatic cancer – review of the literature. Medical News (Warsaw, Poland: 1960), 69 (1 Pt 2). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27164283/

‌Kolesnikova, LR, Pogodina, AV, Valyavskaya, OV, Zurbanova, LV, & Rychkova, LV (2020). Arterial hypertension and oral disease in adolescents. Stomatology, 99 (6), 48–54. https://doi.org/10.17116/stomat20209906148

Nocini, R., Favaloro, E. J., Sanchis-Gomar, F., & Lippi, G. (2020, Septiembre). Periodontitis, coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction: treat one, benefit all. Blood coagulation & fibrinolysis: an international journal in haemostasis and thrombosis, 31(6), 339–345. https://doi.org/10.1097/MBC.0000000000000928

Park, S. Y., et al. (2019, 7 de Abril). Improved oral hygiene care attenuates the cardiovascular risk of oral health disease: a population-based study from Korea. European heart journal, 40(14), 1138–1145. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehy836

Shmerling, R. H. (2021, 22 de Abril). Gum disease and the connection to heart disease. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/gum-disease-and-the-connection-to-heart-disease

Ubertalli, JT (2020, September). Gingivitis . Manual MSD. https://www.msdmanuals.com/es/hogar/trastornos-bucales-y-dentales/enfermedades-periodontales/gingivitis?query=gingivitis

Van Dyke, T. E., et al. (2021, 29 de Enero). Inflammation of the periodontium associates with risk of future cardiovascular events. Journal of Periodontology, 92(3), 348–358. https://doi.org/10.1002/jper.19-0441

Wayhomestudio (s.f.). Happy curly young woman brushes teeth with tooth floss, cares about oral hygiene, surrounded with toothpaste, electric toothbrush and tongue cleaner Free Photo [Imagen]. Flickr. https://www.freepik.com/wayhomestudio

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