A growing body of research supports the importance of good dental health to your overall health, and a new study indicates that brushing your teeth regularly may help prevent heart attack and stroke.
Previous research has linked oral health problems including tooth decay and gum disease to a heightened risk for heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke. But this recent study sought to establish whether good dental health could actually lower the risk for these for these ailments.
Taking Toothpaste to Heart
The research in question focused on a special toothpaste that turns dental plaque green so users can see where to dedicate more brushing effort. The study included about 60 participants who used either the special toothpaste or a standard toothpaste for 60 days.
Researchers measured changes in dental plaque and assessed for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), a biomarker for inflammation associated with cardiovascular problems. Scientists found that those who used the special toothpaste had a greater reduction of dental plaque than those who used regular toothpaste.
Those who brushed with the plaque-highlighting toothpaste also had lower levels of hsCRP than those who used standard toothpaste. Although the research didn’t establish that the reduced hsCRP levels were the result of less plaque, prior studies linked excess dental plaque to an increased risk for cardiovascular problems and other systemic health ailments. The study’s findings were published last month in the American Journal of Medicine.
Oral Health and Heart Health
So far, no research has proven that good oral health alone can prevent heart problems. There are many other factors involved, including diet and lifestyle.
But we do know that harmful bacteria associated with tooth decay and periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream. For example, certain bacteria that cause periodontitis—a common but serious form of gum disease—are also found in the arterial plaque that contributes to heart attack and stroke.
Oral infections, especially periodontitis, are also associated with a host of other health problems. A review of existing research in 2000 connected oral infections and systemic diseases including pneumonia and diabetes, as well as various types of cardiovascular disease.
More than Brushing
Good oral health entails more than brushing twice a day. Regular dental visits are vital to maintaining a healthy, bright smile.
Dental checkups include a thorough teeth-cleaning that remove plaque and tartar that brushing alone can’t eliminate. They also provide your dentist an opportunity to assess potential problems at their earliest stages.
Austin, Texas, cosmetic dentist Dr. Dan Matthews understands that your oral health is critical to your whole health. If you’re seeking a knowledgeable, compassionate dentist to help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile, please call our Bee Cave Road office at (512) 520-0606.