Calling all gym junkies: Are you really at your fittest?
Did you know that dental health has a huge impact on cardiac health? Going for a run, functional training, yoga, cycling, long walks – these are all excellent ways to keep your heart and rest of your body healthy, but you could be neglecting one extremely important cause of sickness and under-performance, and that is your overall oral health. Here Dr. Loan has taken some time to break down this very important but severely underappreciated connection.
How does dental health contribute to cardiac health?
“A simple explanation would be that if your don’t brush your teeth, then plaque and bacteria grow on them. Sometimes this plaque and bacteria can spread and make other parts of your body sick, including your heart. Your teeth have blood vessels giving them nutrients. If your teeth break down, there is a direct path for the plaque and bacteria from bits of food to get into your bloodstream. The bloodstream is like a super highway in your body, and if the bacteria gets on the highway, it will travel everywhere. Sometimes, they get stuck where the flow of traffic slows down, around heart valves. They then build-up plaque, layer upon layer, until your valves become damaged – this causes big problems, and will land you in hospital, at best.”
But what if you do brush your teeth? Are you immune?
“Unfortunately, no. Even if you brush well, there are certain risk factors that make you more prone to this problem:
1. Decay. Some people are prone to decay due to anatomical reasons, and a “hidden” cavity can progress into the blood supply of the tooth, the pulp, without you realising. After all, you can only brush what you can reach with your toothbrush.
2. Periodontal pockets. I often refer to these as the “back of the jeans pockets” that surround each tooth. For various reasons some people don’t have tight pockets around their teeth. These pockets often measure deep, are inflamed, loose, swollen and easily bleed. It could be that some build-up that has attached itself to the tooth’s root surfaces within the pockets. With time the build-up layers on, and becomes destructive, dissolving away jaw and gum tissue. This is called periodontal disease, and can directly lead to bacteria in the bloodstream.”
3. Wisdom teeth. The problem could be that there isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to come through completely, so the tooth is sub-erupted. This is the case with a lot of wisdom teeth we see, so that the gum grows over it, and people get a “pseudo-pocket”. The bacteria then gets into the bloodstream this way, causing a low-grade infection and draining your immune system. Bacteria can even travel to joints, your brain and heart, causing a lot of problems.”
Okay, so what can you do to improve your dental fitness?
At Central Park Dentist, we recommend you visit us for check-ups, routine imaging, measurement of periodontal pockets, special testing, thorough cleaning and surface treatments. We would also say, do not ignore aches, pains, bleeding, and wisdom teeth. We can give advice on how effective your home brushing and flossing routine is as well, and give you tips individualised for your circumstance. If you would like more information or would like to have your oral health checked, please contact us now at 02 6153 3134 or Book Online for a consultation.