When you see a million-watt smile light up a room, it’s natural to think that the heart showing in that smile is warm and amazing too. But, it turns out that there may be more than folk wisdom to that notion. There is a growing body of research that supports the notion of a link between healthy smile and a healthy heart.
Normally, the surfaces of the mouth are covered in a biofilm- a thin layer of bacteria that live in the mouth. When the biofilm is made up of healthy bacteria, the mouth stays healthy. Sometimes, however, the biofilm shifts over to unhealthy bacteria. The unhealthy bacteria cause plaque, cavities, and gingivitis when left unchecked. It’s easy to think about these problems as merely mouth problems. It turns out, that’s probably not true.
One of the main unhealthy bacteria that grows in the oral biofilm, Streptococcus sanguis, has a known link to heart disease and stroke risk. Individuals with gum disease have significantly higher levels of these bacteria in the bloodstream and at the heart than those without gum disease. It is well established that increased levels of these bacteria in the bloodstream increase inflammation. Inflammation’s link to stroke and heart attack is well established.
Penny Wise, Pound Wise
Perhaps the most striking finding may be in a report from the American Journal of Preventative Medicine as reported by Harvard University. They found that healthcare costs for patients with heart disease who has at least one periodontal disease treatment had 20-40% lower healthcare costs than those who did not treat periodontal disease. There is considerable reason to believe that best practices in oral health care lead to less overall medical expenditures.
As yet, the American Heart Association has not said that treating gum disease will treat heart disease, but they have called for additional research on the subject and acknowledged a strong probable link between the two.
Dentists have long acknowledged that a dry mouth breeds bacteria. Unfortunately, dry mouth is a known side effect of several common cardiac medications. CariFree has rinses, like the CTx3 Rinse, and sprays like the CTx2 Spray that both moisturize and neutralize unhealthy bacteria to help prevent gum disease.
Keeping the environment in your mouth healthy is a great part of an overall health plan. Your healthy smile really is good for your healthy heart.