Though the link between dental health and heart health is not completely clear, experts say it’s important to take care of both.
Claiming around 610,000 lives each year, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.1 Did you know that research has found a link between this deadly disease and the health of your gums?
Having gum disease increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%, according to a 2016 study by the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden.2
“Although the findings indicate a strong link between gum disease and heart disease, it’s still unclear whether one actually causes the other,” says the American Heart Association. The two conditions have some of the same risk factors, including smoking, poor nutrition and diabetes. Researchers believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the connection.3
Prevention is the best medicine
Regular healthy habits can lower your risk of both gum disease and heart disease. And, if you already have one or both of these conditions, these strategies can help reduce their impact:
- Brush and floss regularly. To remove plaque-forming bacteria, brush for at least two minutes, twice a day, and don’t skip the floss.
- Choose a healthy diet, rich in essential nutrients (especially vitamins A and C). Reduce or eliminate sugar and starches.
- Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. These habits can destroy your gums and increase your chance of heart disease.
- 1CDC, NCHS. Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2013 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2015.
- 2Rydén L, Buhlin K, Ekstrand E, et al. Periodontitis increases the risk of a first myocardial infarction: A report from the PAROKRANK study. 2016.
- 3Jeffcoat et al. Impact of periodontal therapy on general health: evidence from insurance data for five systemic conditions. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2014;47(2):166-74.
- 4Gum Disease and Heart Disease. American Academy of Periodontology. Dec. 2016. http://www.perio.org/consumer/heart_disease