Regular oral care is not only about preventing gum diseases, daily brushing and flossing could even protect your heart from illnesses. Several studies have shown that gum diseases might increase the risk of coronary artery diseases, heart attacks and strokes.
Periodontal disease increases heart disease risk
In an earlier study, researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health in Columbia University had found that high levels of disease causing bacteria in the mouth are associated with atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when fat deposits in the blood vessels harden to form plaques. Heart attack occurs when the plaques completely obstruct flow of blood through the coronary arteries. According to the American academy of Periodontology, periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis, cavities and tooth loss, increase the risk of coronary artery diseases.
How periodontal disease causes heart problems
Although scientists were aware of the association between gum problems and atherosclerosis, they were unaware of the manner in which oral health affected the heart. Recently, researchers at the University of Bristol have found an answer to this riddle. According to the scientists, the self defense mechanism of the disease causing bacteria living in the mouth might weaken the health of the heart. The bacteria entering the blood stream through the bleeding gum employ a unique strategy to protect themselves from the immune cells and antibiotics.
A protein, known as PadA, produced by the bacteria forces the platelets in the blood to stick together to form a protective shield around the bacteria, which protects the microorganisms from immune cells and antibiotic medications. Besides protecting the bacteria, the PadA protein might trigger formation of small blood clots, inflammation of blood vessels and growth on heart valves that impair blood flow to the heart and brain. The streptococcus or staph bacteria are especially harmful for the oral health. They are largely responsible for dental plaque and periodontal diseases. Severe health problems can occur if the staph bacteria enter the blood stream.
To lower the risk of heart diseases, you should combine healthy diet and regular workouts with regular oral care. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, twice a day, and limiting consumption of sugary foods and beverages could protect your teeth as well as your heart from diseases.