Healthy smile, healthy heart

February is Heart Month, but you might be thinking what do our mouths and hearts have in common? But increasing evidence suggests they may be more closely connected that we might have thought. Research is beginning to show that the inflammatory response from gum disease, can also trigger inflammation in the heart’s vessels and infection in heart valves – which can lead to certain forms of heart disease.

    How does gum disease affect your heart?

    The bacteria that causes gum disease enters the blood stream, and activates an inflammatory response in your blood vessels. This is a natural response to infection, but if this goes on for too long it can damage your blood vessels, including those in your heart – that can then lead to or worsen heart disease. Dental bacteria entering your bloodstream can also cause endocarditis – an infection of the inner lining of the heart.

      Man Smiling In Mirror Portman Dental Care Healthy Smile Healthy Heart
      A recent study carried out on 160 people admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with a heart attack has shown about two-thirds had a severe gum infection. (University of Aberdeen, BHF)
      Portman Dental Day Healthy Smile Healthy Heart

      Spotting signs of gum disease

      In the early stages of gum disease you might not notice any symptoms, but as it advances you will. If we can catch gum disease early, we can prevent it getting worse. Things to look out for are:

      • Bleeding gums
      • Bad breath and/or taste
      • Red or swollen gums
      • Loose and/or lost teeth
      • Receding gums

      If notice any of these signs, book an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can. If you do have gum disease, your dentist will talk you through the risk factors of heart disease (below) and how you can manage these – including giving you dietary advice. 

      We’re committed to keeping our patients safe too, so all of our practice colleagues are trained to give CPR and use defibrillators – which can be lifesaving.  

        'Porphyromonas gingivalis' is a type of bacteria that is involved in the development of gum disease, and has also been linked to coronary artery disease and heart attacks. (University of Aberdeen, BHF)

        Who is at risk of heart disease?

        You’re much more likely to get heart disease if you experience the following things. The good news is there are a lot of small changes you can start making today to really lower your risk.

        You’re also at a higher risk of developing heart disease if you are from an ethnic background, have a family history of cardiovascular disease (CVD), are over the age of 50 and male.

          Man Smiling Portman Dental Care Healthy Smile Healthy Heart
          People with higher levels of porphyromonas gingivalis in their mouths tend to have more damage to their heart and more fatty build-up in their coronary arteries.(University of Aberdeen, BHF)
          Dental Clinic Photography Portman Dental Care Healthy Smile Healthy Heart

          Looking after your dental and heart health

          If you have gum disease, you are more likely to develop heart disease. So by looking after your gums you’ll looking after your heart health too. You can prevent gum disease by having a good home care regime, by visiting your hygienist or dental therapist regularly to have your teeth professionally cleaned – and of course seeing your dentist regularly too. If you want to do more to keep your heart healthy, visit British Heart Foundation to find out more. 

            If you think you have gum disease book an appointment with a dentist at one of our local practices. If you’re worried about the health of your heart speak to your doctor. You can also call the British Heart Foundation Heart Helpline on 0808 802 1234.Visit for more information. 

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