Can Decayed Teeth Affect Your Heart?

Can Decayed Teeth Affect Your Heart?

Apr 01, 2023

A bright, healthy, and well-aligned smile boosts your self-confidence and allows you to eat comfortably and laugh without embarrassment. On the other hand, poor oral health can affect your oral function, cause discomfort, and affect your overall health. For instance, poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk of heart problems and other serious health complications.

A 2016 study showed that undetected tooth infection increases the risk of heart disease by 2.7 times. Fortunately, regular dental care exams can help prevent dental problems and lower the risk of heart problems.

What is tooth decay or rotten teeth?

Cavities or tooth decay happen when acids produced by oral bacteria erode the teeth and cause decay. Decay results in permanent damage to a tooth, forming holes or cavities. If not treated, decay continues to eat up more of the tooth’s structure, exposing the inner parts of the tooth to bacteria. When bacteria reach the pulp, it infects and inflames the tooth’s nerves, blood tissues, and other tissues, resulting in more serious symptoms like swelling, pain, bad taste, halitosis, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. Visit our Great Neck dentist right away if you have any oral symptoms.

What causes tooth infections or decay?

Below are common risk factors that contribute to tooth decay:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Regular consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks
  • Dental damages like chips, cracks, and breaks
  • Underlying health conditions like diabetes
  • Pregnancy and other hormonal factors
  • Certain medications
  • Certain dental devices like dentures
  • Dehydration or a dry mouth

Tooth Decay and Heart Disease

If tooth decay is left untreated for too long, it can lead to gum or periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the soft tissues that support the teeth. Gum disease causes your gums to feel sore, tender, bleed, and recede (separate from teeth).

Receding gums creates pockets or gaps under the gums, allowing bacteria and plaque to hide and grow. Over time, these pockets get deeper, exposing the tooth’s roots and capillaries near the roots. From these pockets, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to different parts of your body, including the heart.

The oral bacteria often cause plaque to develop and harden on the inner walls of the heart’s arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis). It restricts blood flow to and from the heart and throughout the body. Restricted blood flow is a key catalyst for heart disease.

Similarly, infectious bacteria can reach the heart, multiply, and cause toxins that cause endocarditis, life-threatening infection, and inflammation, leading to cardiac tissue damage and a fatal heart attack. The risk is higher if you have pre-existing heart conditions, a history of heart problems, and other health issues like a weakened immune system and HIV/AIDs.

Besides reaching the heart through the bloodstream, oral bacteria can also cause inflammation, causing your body’s immune system to overreact. The hyper-reaction can then trigger considerable tissue damage across the heart. Besides the heart, untreated oral infections can lead to other serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, memory issues, and respiratory problems like pneumonia.

How to prevent or reduce your Risk of Heart Disease

Many factors can increase your risk of oral infections and heart disease. Fortunately, most of these factors are avoidable. Use the tips below to promote excellent oral and heart health:

  • Brush twice daily. Use a soft brush and brush for at least two minutes. Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash.
  • Floss daily (before brushing).
  • Brush gently using a soft brush to prevent gum recession and infection.
  • Avoid or limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks. These items encourage enamel erosion, which leads to tooth infections.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol abuse.
  • Get treated for oral or health conditions like diabetes, dry mouth, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Schedule routine dental exams and cleanings in Great Neck, NY. It helps detect and treat potential oral problems like tooth decay and gum disease early enough before they cause serious complications.
  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Schedule an Appointment

Do you have a tooth infection? Or perhaps you’ve more questions on how tooth infection affects your heart. Contact and book a dentist appointment at Great Neck Dental Associates to book your consultation today.

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