A surprising relationship between oral health and general health, that is currently heavily researched, is how oral infections can affect cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is a general term which includes diseases of the heart, blood vessels and stroke. Some of the cardiovascular diseases are:
- Coronary artery disease (vessels in the heart)
- High blood pressure
- Cardiac arrest (sudden and unexpected loss of heart function)
- Congestive heart failure (heart doesn’t pump as much as it should)
- Stroke and transient ischaemic attack (blood clot or bleeding in the brain)
The significance of cardiovascular disease cannot be underestimated. It affects 4.2 million Australians (1 in 6 people) and it’s the leading cause of death in Australia (and the world).
Several studies have now shown that gum disease is associated with cardiovascular disease. The exact cause and effect relationship is still being researched but it is believed that inflammation in the gums can exacerbate pre-existing cardiovascular disease.
This reinforces the importance of establishing good oral health practices – eating healthy foods (5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day), brushing twice a day and flossing at night. You should also see your dentist or oral health therapist at least every 6 months so that any potential oral diseases can be treated early.