Heart health is an important matter for adults of all ages. We know now that there are several steps that we can take to support cardiovascular function as we age, and that is just one of the bits of good news. Another aspect of heart health that can make us smile is knowing that the recommended actions to protect this vital organ are pretty darn easy. Eating well and exercising take minimal effort. Stress management, as well. Finally, taking good care of teeth and gums is integral to the bigger picture of heart health and general wellness.
The Heart and the Smile Here’s What You Need to Know
You may have the heart that the state of oral health can affect the heart, but that is the very tip of the iceberg of information on this connection between two parts of the body. Just how is it that a healthy mouth could promote a healthy heart, and vice versa? Here’s how.
Research has found that the human body has bacteria. Two examples include the skin and the mouth. Both areas need a certain number of bacteria, so this is not a bad thing to know these microorganisms exist. What is bad is when an imbalance occurs. In the mouth, this leads to inflammation and cavities. It can lead to infection in the areas beneath the surface, and this means bacteria number soar. It also means that bacteria can get into the blood very easily. When they do, they can head for the heart.
And then . . .
Research hasn’t only indicated that bacteria are found in the mouth and that bacteria may be found in the arteries of the heart; it has discovered that these may be the very same bacterium, suggesting that what originated in the mouth spread to the heart. This can mean unnecessary trouble such as:
- The inner lining of the valves and chambers of the heart is referred to as the endocardium. To develop endocarditis means that this lining has become inflamed and infected. Treatment may be prescribed; however, there is a possibility that the valves of the heart could sustain permanent damage.
- Cardiovascular disease. This is one of the conditions that we try to prevent by eating a low-sodium diet and getting to the gym at least a few times a week. One of the characteristics of cardiovascular disease is an arterial plaque. Where there is plaque stuck to the walls of arteries, there is inhibited circulation. Bacteria from the mouth can be a part of this plaque, a part that also instigates inflammation.
- Heart attack. Just why is it that we want to avoid cardiovascular disease? Because that condition is a prime factor in heart attacks.