Healthy smile, happy heart!
September 10, 2010
There has long been a recognised link between gum disease and heart disease and this week saw scientists get closer to indentifying the root of the problem. Up until now, experts have been unclear if the connection is simply that poor oral health is a marker for a general lack of well being and health awareness. But now scientists from the University of Bristol believe it is the Streptococcus bacteria that could be the cause of heart problems.
The bacteria are present in the mouth where there is poor gum health; and they can leave the mouth and enter the blood stream. Once in the blood, the bacteria form a protein around which platelets form, clumping together to surround the bacteria. Professor Howard Jenkinson, who led the research explains further: “Unfortunately, as well as helping out the bacteria, platelet clumping can cause small blood clots, growths on the heart valves, or inflammation of blood vessels that can block the blood supply to the heart and brain.”
These latest findings will help scientists to continue their research into the links between healthy gums and teeth and a healthy heart. There is no doubt that a good teeth brushing and flossing routine will help keep gum disease at bay. Here are our top tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing at least once a day is essential for healthy gums
- Avoid snacking in between meals and remember that sweets and sugary drinks will cause tooth decay
- Have regular dental checks and make sure you see a hygienist who can help you prevent gum disease
- Take bleeding gums seriously, they are a sign of gum disease and a visit to your dentist and hygienist is essential
- If you need more extensive dental repair work done don’t delay, if your NHS dentist cannot help and UK private dentistry is too expense, consider travelling to European countries such as Hungary to have the treatment done there
Cardiologists are keen to point out that other factors such exercise, not smoking and a healthy diet are all absolutely essential for heart health.