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Can Bad Teeth Lead to a Bad Heart?


Here’s how your oral health affects your heart health and what you can do to protect your teeth (and heart) today.
woman in exercise clothes outside sitting on a bench holding a water bottle, can bad teeth lead to a bad heart

A bright, shining smile can give you confidence in your appearance and let you laugh with no reserves. But poor oral health can affect more than your smile — your oral health is the gateway to your overall health.

Oral health issues like cavities and untreated tooth decay could lead to periodontal disease. And a recent study by the Journal of the American Heart Association found that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. 

Another study found that common mouth problems like cavities or missing teeth can be as effective at predicting heart disease as using cholesterol levels.

When you take care of your teeth, you take care of your entire body — including your heart. 

Here’s how your oral health affects your heart health, and what you can do to protect your teeth (and heart) today.

Untreated Cavities and Heart Disease

If you let an untreated cavity live in your mouth for too long, it can lead to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease causes your gums to recede from your teeth, which creates a gap beneath the gum line where bacteria can hide and grow.

From this gap, bacteria can enter your bloodstream and travel to your heart’s arteries. If the bacteria in your heart’s arteries harden, it can cause a condition called atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis causes plaque to grow on the inner walls of your heart’s arteries, which can restrict blood flow throughout the body. And restricted blood flow to and from your heart is the catalyst for heart disease.

Bleeding Gums and Endocarditis

Poor oral hygiene can also lead to a gum infection.

Infected gums can be red, sensitive, and may bleed during brushing, flossing, or during a dental cleaning.

This type of bleeding could trigger a rare but serious heart condition called endocarditis. Endocarditis develops when bacteria from infected gums spreads to the inner lining of the heart. 

Bacterial growths in your heart’s inner lining can prevent your heart’s valves from working properly. And when your valves aren’t working efficiently, you’re at a heightened risk of heart attack. 

Along with practicing a good oral hygiene regiment at home, you can reduce your risk of endocarditis by telling your doctor or dentist about any health changes that could affect your heart health, including heart and blood complications or new medications.

Periodontal Disease and Heart Attacks 

Similar to periodontal disease potentially leading to heart disease, growing research is showing that you’re more likely to have a heart attack if you have a dental disease.

When you have heart disease, you’ve got a higher risk the blood flow in your heart becoming blocked entirely. If this happens, it can trigger a heart attack.

A heart attack is both dangerous and expensive. Although critical illness insurance can help cover the bills associated with heart disease (if you’ve enrolled in a plan before your diagnosis,) the best way to prevent heart disease from developing out of periodontal disease is to invest in preventive care.

Brush Well to Protect Your Heart

An effective at-home oral health regiment is the best way to keep your gums and teeth healthy, which keeps your heart healthy.

Brushing twice a day for two minutes a day and visiting your dentist at least once a year for your annual cleaning can help you ward off gum inflammation and tooth decay. 

Dental insurance can also help you stay on top of your oral health game and get the preventive care you need to keep your teeth (and heart) healthy.

67% of uninsured Americans delay dental care because it’s too expensive, and the same percentage have at least one unmet dental need.

Dental insurance can help make annual checkups, cleanings and procedures more affordable for you and your family. Don’t let untreated cavities turn into heart disease. Get no-strings-attached quote for a dental plan today > 

Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.
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