Have a heart… brush your teeth!

This is often the message referring to halitosis (aka “bad breath”) and its relationship to poor dental hygiene. While valid, this post is actually about relationship between dental care and the leading cause of death in the United States – Heart Disease.

You may have heard that tooth infections, left untreated, do more than hurt your mouth and jaw… that they can result in infections that compromise heart valves and contribute to heart attacks and strokes! But it has been established that if you aren’t regularly brushing and flossing, you are asking for heart disease EVEN IF YOU DON’T HAVE PERIODONTAL DISEASE OR TOOTH ACHES/INFECTIONS!

According to a recent study published in August 2024 in the journal Circulation, there is an “association of a gut microbiota composition characterized by increased abundance of Streptococcus spp and other species commonly found in the oral cavity with coronary atherosclerosis and systemic inflammation markers….”

Streptococcus anginosus, Streptococcus oralis and Streptococcus mutans do more than just make for ugly teeth and bad breath. When these bacteria are allowed to flourish in the mouth, 1) they mess up the balance with “good” bacteria and when the immune system kicks in to battle them, they escape into the blood stream to colonize our arteries and 2) they trigger low-grade systemic inflammation that contributes to artery plaques in the heart and throughout the body.

These plaques inhibit the normal function of the lining of the arteries, and they eventually impede the flow and set the stage for pieces to dislodge causing strokes and heart attacks!!!

Keep these bugs at bay by doing what your momma taught you… :

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day,
  2. Floss at least once a day,
  3. Pay particular attention to the back molars (just because they are the hardest to reach and most likely to get neglected),
  4. Consider a WaterPik style jet flosser, and
  5. Get regular dental checkups and cleanings.

No go thank your Momma and give her a hug and a kiss.

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