When you look at junk food, you can see how it can contribute to both bad oral hygiene and heart disease. After all, consuming sugary snacks can cause plaque buildup if you do not brush and floss regularly. Moreover, eating snacks high in saturated fat can have a detrimental impact on your heart as your arteries slowly begin to clog. This is information known by most people. However, did you know that poor oral hygiene is often linked to heart disease?
How Does Oral Health Affect Overall Health?
It is not fully understood if bad oral hygiene can actually cause bad cardiac health, but it does influence many other diseases including diabetes and pneumonia. When bacteria enter the bloodstream from the mouth, it can cause brain abscesses, skin ulcers, and joint infections. Sometimes toxins produced by oral bacteria can circulate and cause meningitis or pyrexia. A third way that oral health affects overall health is by creating an inflammatory reaction at specific sites.
So, How Does This Affect the Heart?
The main symptoms of heart disease can be attributed to any of these three factors. Atherosclerosis is the technical term for the thickening of arterial walls from cholesterol and plaque. The bacteria that causes oral plaque may not contribute to arterial plaque, but it can create additional thickening. This buildup is also made worse because the bacteria can cause swelling in the artery wall, making the artery even narrower.
Is It a Link?
There are many studies that attempt to make a connection between poor oral health and heart disease, but there is nothing that forms a definitive link. There are many coincidences between both poor oral and cardiac health. This means that poor oral health is an indicator of heart disease and is recognized as a symptom. It does not however, mean that having periodontal disease means you have cardiac disease. It does mean that it could serve as an early warning for heart disease because of the coincidental symptoms.
While junk food with its high sugar content and saturated fats can definitely contribute to both poor oral hygiene and cardiac disease individually, the link between the two diseases is tenuous at best. If you are concerned about heart disease, paying attention to the known risk factors is very important. For more information, or if you have any questions about heart disease risk factors, contact a dentist like McMillin Jeff DDS.