Taking care of your gums has plenty of important benefits that we’ve heard about since we’ve become aware of the importance of dental hygiene. Healthy gums will help you carry a radiant smile, protect your teeth from falling out, and will save you extra (and potentially costly) trips to the dentist. However, there may be one additional, not so obvious benefit to having healthy gums is that they may help to keep your heart in good health, too.
Just a Theory So Far
It’s important to note that the link between healthy gums and heart health is not something that’s concrete. Although the American Heart Association did put out a statement in 2012 supporting a link between heart disease and gum disease, the statement did admit that there was no concrete evidence to back up such a claim.
With that being said, that doesn’t mean that the two are mutually exclusive. The basis of the theory stems from the notion that the causes of poor oral hygiene also tend to have links to various cardiac-related conditions.
For example, some of the prime movers behind the development of periodontitis include smoking, age, and diabetes. These also happen to be things that tend to elevate a person’s risk of developing heart disease. As such, it can become rather easy to spot a person’s mouth in a state of disrepair, determine the cause of the condition, and deduce that a heart-related issue may be imminent.
Other Potential Causes of the Link
Bad health habits affecting the gums and the heart at once is not the lone theory that exists. Some research has dove into the realm of non-smoking populations to find a link still exists if bacteria that settles into the oral cavity can spread through the gums and throughout the entire body. When this occurs, inflammatory responses throughout the body may be triggered. This could not only conceivably up the chances of heart disease, it could also increase the instances of other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups.
Preventing One Issue to Potentially Preventing the Other
Even if the link between gums and heart health appears to be purely coincidental, there are still various things steps that you can take to help simultaneously boost the health factor of your gums and heart.
The first step to take is to simply get into the habit of taking care of your teeth on a routine basis. Things like brushing your teeth twice a day, daily flossing, and visiting your dentist on a regular basis can go a long way into preventing the proliferation of bacteria within your mouth. If there is indeed a link between oral bacteria and the inflammation that causes heart trauma, this will help to mitigate that link.
Other steps you can take are mainly built around living a healthy lifestyle. This would include things like quitting smoking, exercising on a regular basis, eating foods lower in sugar, and managing your weight. Developing a combination of these habits will develop an effective one-two punch that can keep your gum line and your ticker in tip-top shape.
The Jury is Still Out
The debate on whether or not gum health and heart health can be linked is still one that rages on. Even though there are causation-based correlations between the two, a link that definitively joins the two together is still unknown, and may be for some time.
Until that time comes – if it ever does at all – your best bet to retain good gum and heart health is to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle that protects both bodily elements. Whether it’s the gums or the hearts, working to stop issues before they start is always something worth doing.