Take care of your teeth and gums to protect your heart

brushing teeth
Ritratt: Pixabay

Gum disease and tooth decay are associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Poor oral hygiene may increase the risk of an infection in the blood stream, which may also affect the heart.

In fact, according to a 2016 study by the Journal of Dental Research, having an underlying, unresolved tooth infection may increase one’s risk of developing heart disease by approximately 2.7 times.

What is infective endocarditis?

Infective endocarditis is an infection that affects the lining of the heart chambers as well as the heart valves. It is not a common encounter, but it can still cause major cardiac damage. 

Common signs and symptoms of infective endocarditis may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, night sweats or chills;
  • a new heart murmur;
  • fatigue;
  • aching joints and muscles;
  • shortness of breath;
  • chest pain

Poor oral hygiene and being an intravenous drug user are known risk factors for this disease.

Ritratt: Unsplash

How can we prevent gum disease and tooth decay?

Tooth decay can be prevented by consuming healthy drinks and foods, which contain the least amount of sugar. This measure coupled with a correct brushing technique, keeps your teeth free of plaque. 

Frequent dental check-ups, with routine scale and polish (cleaning), can further enhance the health of your teeth and gums. The use of fluoridated toothpaste, mouth rinse and interdental brushes can further optimise your oral hygiene. 

This article was written by Dr Georgiana Farrugia Bonnici (Medical Doctor)Dr Jake Borg Falzon (Dentist)