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Heart Healthy Dentistry

What is the connection between your heart and the dentist? Evidence is pointing to a link that you probably never considered. Individuals who do not take care of their teeth increase their risk of developing heart disease. For years, scientists have speculated that people who didn’t worry about their teeth had a tendency to ignore their overall health. If they failed to take proper care of their mouths, they probably didn’t take precautions to prevent heart disease either. Research is now offering a different theory. Seeing San Antonio dentists might just improve your heart health.

Gum Disease

Gum, or periodontal, disease occurs due to an inflammation of the tissue that supports the teeth. If left unchecked, gums will recede and the bone deteriorates. The primary cause is bacteria. When plaque and tartar build up, bacteria invade the area and, without proper dental hygiene, destroy tissue. The exact mechanism is unknown, possibly toxins released by bacteria lead to the breakdown. Scientists are speculating that whatever destroys tissue in the mouth may affect the heart and other cardiovascular processes too.

Prevailing Theories

There are two basic theories behind the increased risk of heart problems from periodontal disease. The first involves the invasion of bacteria into the bloodstream through the gum line. When the gums start to recede, bacteria enter the blood. Once inside the body, they travel via the bloodstream and then attach to arterial plaque. This causes destabilization of the plaque. Simply put, plaque breaks free from the arteries and leads to a heart attack.

The other consideration is more complex. The body tends to react systematically. This means what happens in one area can cause a ripple throughout other systems. One systematic reaction occurs due to inflammation. When there is irritation and swelling anywhere on the body such as the gums, it increases plaque formation in the arteries. An increase in plaque leads to heart disease.


Taking care of your teeth is a lifelong obligation. It takes just a few days of poor hygiene to cause tartar buildup. Once tartar is there, it makes it harder to remove plaque from the teeth. With just a couple of days neglect, you start a chain reaction that can lead to gum disease. With the new evidence of a connection to heart problems, you are risking more than just your gums.

Brushing twice a day is a heart-healthy habit. Proper hygiene includes daily flossing and regular trips to the dentist, as well. If you are in Texas, give San Antonio TX dentists a call. A trip to the dentist may help prevent heart disease and strokes.

Patrick Whalen is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow him @2patwhalen.