Return to Index
Brush Your Teeth—It's Good for Your Heart
- Brush inner, outer, and chewing surfaces at least twice daily with a soft-bristled brush held at a 45° angle. Some people find electric brushes easier to use.
- Floss at least once daily, gently guiding the floss between teeth. While holding floss tight and curved around each tooth, slide the floss up and down. Use a clean section of floss for each tooth.
- Get a professional dental cleaning every six months, or more often if you are prone to plaque or gingivitis.
- Ask for an annual periodontal screening and assessment of the degree to which gum tissue has pulled away from teeth.
Birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy, puberty, and menstrual cycles all raise estrogen levels. This can make your gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to form.
Some medicines create an overgrowth of gum tissue, especially in people with an existing gum condition. Bacteria can easily build up in the enlarged gums and start to destroy the tissues that support the teeth.
Smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease and can also reduce the effectiveness of treatment.
One study found that periodontal disease is more common in people who are obese. It may be because the body has a harder time fighting infection without proper nutrients.
- Increased Age
- As we age, our risk for peridontal disease rises.
- People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing gum disease.
- Other Illnesses
- People with immune deficiencies, such as those with AIDS, are more likely to have problems with their gums.
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed with brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Loose or missing teeth
American Academy of Periodontology http://www.perio.org
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
D'Aiuto F, Parkar M, Andreou G, Brett PM, Ready D, Tonetti MS. Periodontitis and atherogenesis: causal association or simple coincidence? J Clin Periodontol. 2004;31(5):402-411.
Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Colditz G, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Speizer FE, Willett WC. The association between tooth loss and coronary heart disease in men and women. J Public Health Dent. 2004;64(4):209-215.
First evidence found of link between gum disease and high alcohol consumption, low dietary antioxidants. University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine website. Available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/1999/03/3171.html. Published March 13, 1999. Accessed August 30, 2013.
Ford PJ, Yamazaki K, Seymour GJ:Cardiovascular and oral disease interactions: what is the evidence? Prim Dent Care. 2007;14:59-66.
Periodontal (gum) disease: causes, symptoms, and treatments. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/. Updated August 2012. Accessed August 30, 2013.
Periodontitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 22, 2013. Accessed August 30, 2013.
UB researchers identify specific oral bacteria most likely to increase risk of heart attack. University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine website. Available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/1999/03/3210.html. Published March 12, 1999. Accessed August 30, 2013.
Yeh ET: High-sensitivity C-reactive protein as a risk assessment tool for cardiovascular disease. Clin Cardiol. 2005; 28:408-12.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2013
- Update Date: 08/30/2013