Will taking care of my teeth help prevent heart disease?
Answer From Thomas J. Salinas, D.D.S.
Taking care of your teeth isn't a proven way to prevent heart disease. While there appears to be some connection between oral health and heart disease, more research is needed to understand it.
Poor oral health has been debated as a possible cause of heart disease for many years. In 2012, experts from the American Heart Association reviewed the available scientific evidence and concluded that poor oral health hasn't been proved to cause heart disease — and that treating existing gum disease hasn't been proved to reduce the risk of heart disease. Still, studies have shown:
- Gum disease (periodontitis) is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can affect the heart valves. Oral health may be particularly important if you have artificial heart valves.
- Tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.
- There is a strong connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from periodontal treatment.
Even though oral health isn't a key to heart disease prevention, it's important to take care of your teeth and gums:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss daily.
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
If you're concerned about heart disease prevention, ask your doctor about proven ways to reduce your risk — such as stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.
Jan. 25, 2019
Thomas J. Salinas, D.D.S.
See more Expert Answers
- Mathews MJ, et al. Oral health and coronary artery disease. BMC Oral Health. 2016;16:122.
- What is endocarditis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/endo/#. Accessed Dec. 14, 2018.
- Home oral care recommendations. American Dental Association. https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/Files/HomeOralCare_Web_Final_July2018.pdf?la=en. Accessed Dec. 14, 2018.
- Yu Y-H, et al. Cardiovascular risks associated with incident and prevalent periodontal disease. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. 2015;42:21.
- Pietropaoli D, et al. Poor oral health and blood pressure control among US hypertensive adults: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009 to 2014. Hypertension. 2018;72:1365.
- Lockhart PB, et al. Periodontal disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease: Does the evidence support an independent association? A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012;125:2520.
- Chapple ILC, et al. Diabetes and periodontal diseases: Consensus report of the Joint EFP/AAP Workshop on Periodontitis and Systemic Diseases. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. 2013;84:s106.
- Sanz M, et al. Scientific evidence on the links between periodontal diseases and diabetes: Consensus report and guidelines of the joint workshop on periodontal diseases and diabetes by the International Diabetes Federation and the European Federation of Periodontology. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2018;137:231.
- Uyar IS, et al. Does oral hygiene trigger carotid artery intima-media thickness? The Heart Surgery Forum. 2013;16:E232.