The Connection between Dental Hygiene and a Healthy HeartOct 29, 2021 04:08PM ● By Dr. David Minkoff
In 2017, a study revealed that 30 percent of American adults skipped their semi-annual dentist appointments the year prior. Individuals aged between 18 and 29 were less likely to schedule a regular dentist appointment compared to those aged 30 to 44; however, those in this age group are slowly declining as well (1). This decline is due to dental anxiety, high costs and/or the misunderstanding that dental health is not as important as overall health. Many people are still unaware that achieving optimal dental health is the secret to achieving great overall health.
Sally Cram, doctor of dental surgery in Washington, D.C., and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association (ADA), explains that more physicians are taking a holistic approach towards their patients. They’re encouraging individuals to prioritize oral health since the mouth acts as “the gateway to the body”(2). Physicians began noticing a common trend between inflammation within the mouth and its connection with other chronic diseases. The theory claims that our mouths are full of bacteria, food particles and tooth plaque that can be prevented with daily brushing and flossing. However, those who fail to care for their teeth may develop tartar and inflamed gums. This inflammation can cause other chronic problems such as loose teeth, receding gums, bad breath, periodontal (gum) disease and much more. It was seen that people with gum disease were 40 percent more likely to be at risk of a chronic condition if it wasn’t resolved. For example, if left untreated, this inflammation can spread to other areas of the body and increase the risk of serious illness like cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease and cardiovascular disease. Out of all the areas affected by oral bacteria, the heart was the most common.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, with approximately 17.9 million deaths per year (3). These deaths can vary from coronary heart disease, hypertension, arrhythmia and cardiac arrest to peripheral artery disease, stroke and enlarged heart. In 2018, researchers conducted a study that sampled nearly a million people with 65,000 of them having a cardiovascular condition. Results demonstrated a “moderate correlation” between poor oral health and coronary heart disease (4). Additionally, it reported that out of 32,060 adults sampled, 650 (who suffered a stroke) and 525 (who had a heart attack) had undergone invasive dental procedures. WebMD claims that “gum disease and heart disease often go hand-in-hand” with 91 percent of patients suffering from both heart disease and periodontitis simultaneously (5).
The reason that the heart is affected by poor oral health is because the inflammation within the mouth slowly spreads into the blood vessels. The plaque-like bacteria that grow on teeth in between cleanings has a way of spreading through the gums which can lead to gum disease. Subsequently, the bacteria can then spread to one’s arteries, increase cholesterol levels and facilitate atherosclerosis. The plaque may induce blood clots in various parts of the body, be it the arms, legs, brain, lungs, abdomen or the heart itself. This can lead to serious cardiovascular disease such as stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, coronary artery disease, or inflammation of the heart valve. An article published by WebMD claimed that inflammation is a “common denominator” between the diseases, and those with severe gum disease have increased levels of C-reactive proteins (CRP) (5). This is a type of protein created by the liver in response to inflammation as a way of protecting tissues from autoimmune disease.
Other risks of cardiovascular disease include heavy metal toxicity from root canals, tooth crowns and cavity fillings. A study conducted in Finland examined the teeth and arteries of over 500 participants. Results showed that those with previous root canals were “three times more likely to have acute coronary syndrome”(6), a disease that clogs the arteries within the heart and has a high heart attack risk factor. This is because dental amalgams and root canals are known to contain toxins such as mercury that cause inflammation and spread to other areas of the body.
When patients visit LifeWorks Wellness Center, many are unaware of their heavy metal toxicity due to their past dental procedures. Others are surprised to hear that the bacteria in their teeth are the root cause of their cardiovascular issues. However, they’re often left confused as receiving an invasive dental procedure to help their oral health will still place them in similar predicaments. That’s why we advise our patients to seek holistic dental care, where white filling is substituted for mercury fillings and still beneficial to oral cleanliness. In the end, one’s cardiovascular health risks won’t be compromised.
LifeWorks’ patients with cardiovascular conditions or autoimmune disorders will be subject to lab tests and bloodwork to detect signs of toxicity or inflammation. If results come back positive (along with a history of previous dental procedures or lack of dental hygiene), they will be recommended to see a local holistic dentist to remove any root canals and crowns or receive a cleaning. In addition, they will be provided a treatment plan to eliminate the inflammation and toxicity present in their body with detoxification methods and cardiovascular therapies to improve their heart health. Eventually, they will improve their quality of life and stave off the risks of cardiovascular disease.
If you are interested in learning more about cardiovascular disease and treatment options, call 727-466-6789 or visit LifeWorksWellnessCenter.com.
Dr. David Minkoff is co-founder and medical director of LifeWorks Wellness Center in Clearwater, a foremost alternative health clinic in the U.S.
1. Why You Shouldn't Skip Out on Visiting Your Dentist in Dix Hills; Dix Hills Family Dentistry Blog (dixhillsdentist.com)