At first glance, it may seem as though tooth loss and heart disease have absolutely nothing in common with one another. After all, the former is a dental issue while the latter is centered around cardiac health.
However, some studies have shown that there may actually be a correlation between the two. This article seeks to cover the topic from all angles so that you can get a comprehensive and unbiased look at the latest data. Let’s get right into it.
Before we go deep into the potential link between tooth loss and heart disease, it’s important that we first take a quick look at how prominent the two issues are. According to the World Health Organization, nearly a third of deaths in 2016 were caused by cardiovascular diseases.
This makes it the leading cause of death globally — beating out car accidents and diabetes for the top spot. But what about tooth loss? Well, severe periodontal disease is the 11th most prevalent disease worldwide, also according to the WHO.
This is significant because severe periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. With the two issues being so prevalent on a global scale, it can be easy to think that the overlap may simply be due to the number of people that suffers from both of them.
What The Studies Show
However, the studies show differently. The study that we’re analyzing here consisted of 316,588 participants across the United States and its territories — a large enough sample size to get fairly accurate results. All the participants were between the ages of 40 and 79 years old.
From the whole lot, 13% of participants had a cardiovascular disease while 8% had no teeth. Out of the pool of participants with cardiovascular disease, 28% had no teeth, which is significantly higher than the 7% who had no missing teeth.
The statistics also showed that the risk is higher in those who are missing some teeth but not all. Whether it was one tooth missing, six, or more, the data showed it increased the odds that a cardiovascular disease might develop.
You may think that the results are skewed since people without teeth may have lost them due to age or smoking — both being prominent risk factors for heart disease — but the data was adjusted to account for these factors.
Other factors that were accounted for include alcohol consumption, diabetes, race, body mass index, and dental visits. Hamad Mohammed, who is the lead author of the study, said that their results support the idea that dental health and cardiovascular health are linked.
Now that you know that there is, in fact, a relationship between the two, it’s important that you take a dual-angled approach to staying healthy. The next two sections will teach you how to care for both your dental and cardiovascular wellbeing.
There are quite a few things that you can do to protect yourself from cardiovascular disease, but you must first be familiar with the causes so that you can lower your risk by living a healthier lifestyle.
The number of things that can cause heart disease should have its own article so for the sake of brevity we’ll list out a few of the most prominent risk factors. We’ve already mentioned age, smoking, alcohol, and diabetes above.
In addition to those, chronic stress, obesity, hypertension, congenital heart defects, narcotics, and caffeine can also increase your risk. Even certain medications and supplements could put you on the path to cardiovascular disease.
Unsurprisingly, lifestyle has an important role. If you have a diet that’s high in cholesterol, fat, salt, and sugar then you could be at a higher risk. Sedentary routines likewise increase your risk since lack of exercise has long been associated with various types of heart disease.
Why Is Periodontal Disease a Cardiovascular Risk?
When you’re dealing with periodontal disease, you’re at an increased state of inflammation. This is a key thing to note since long-term inflammation can lead to various cardiovascular diseases — particularly atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing and hardening of arteries.
Those who ignore periodontal disease so long that they suffer tooth loss have likely endured inflammation for a significant period of time which could explain why studies show that they have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
In contrast, those with a full collection of teeth have likely taken proper measures to keep their dental health shipshape. This means that they haven’t put as much inflammatory stress on their body and will thus be at lower risk of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular conditions.
Preventing Tooth Loss
Seeing as maintaining your set of pearly whites seems to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, developing good habits that prevent tooth loss is more important now than it ever was before.
As the old adage goes, prevention is better than the cure. Staying true to that, preventative dental care can help keep your teeth firmly secured in your gums. According to the National Health Service, the rule of thumb is that you should go for a dental checkup twice a year.
However, you may need to go for a checkup more often so it’s important that you check with your dentist so that they can recommend a schedule based on your current dental health. Some people may even need to go as often as every three months.
These periodic checkups can help dentists catch a problem earlier and nip them at the bud before tooth loss occurs. Beyond early diagnosis, professional cleaning also plays a big part in keeping your choppers healthy since plaque buildup can cause periodontal disease.
Don’t get us wrong, brushing twice a day at home is very important to your dental health. That being said, it’s not sufficient to keep your mouth clean long-term if you don’t supplement it with professional cleanings by your dentist.
On the note of oral hygiene, staying true to your routine is a key part of ensuring the survival of your teeth. In addition to brushing twice a day, other daily measures such as rinsing with mouthwash and flossing can keep plaque in check between dental checkups.
While dental checkups are arguably the most important factor in preventing tooth loss, your diet can also increase/decrease your risk depending on what it consists of. Eating nutritious meals and avoiding unhealthy snacks such as chips or candy goes a long way.
You should also avoid acidic foods and beverages such as french fries or soda — sorry McDonald’s. To learn more about the risks of an acidic diet be sure to check out our article on The Dangers of Acidity in Beverages on Teeth.
The studies show that there’s a visible link between the health of your teeth and the health of your heart, so put some effort into maintaining both. A few lifestyle changes are well worth it if you get to live longer as a result.
Don’t hesitate to call us at (312) 236-9325 if you have any questions about maintaining good oral health and defending yourself from the constant threat of tooth loss! Remember, healthy teeth make for a happier heart!
Please be more specific about dental factors related to cardiovascular health. The periodontal disease would be the biggest Link here.