Science CONFIRMS the link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular health — keep your mouth clean to protect your heart

Having a sparkling smile can make you feel great; it’s a major confidence boost when you know your pearly whites are looking their best. But you might not know that dental health isn’t just about shiny teeth and fresh breath. Those things are nice too, but the health of your gums and teeth can play a major role in your overall health — especially the health of your heart and cardiovascular system.

Did you know that underlying dental infections and disease can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease? Research has shown that people with gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) are two to three times more likely to have a serious cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke?

Oral health and heart disease

Research linking the health of your mouth to that of your heart has been evident for decades. As Natural Health 365 reports, a 2002 study found that people with periodontal disease were more likely to suffer cardiovascular problems. “After a chewing test, those with severe periodontal disease showed four times more harmful and disease-causing bacteria in their blood than those without periodontal disease or with just a moderate case. The presence of this bloodborne bacteria dramatically increases the chances of cardiovascular disease and other systemic and chronic disease types,” writer Dena Schmidt explains.

In addition to potentially harmful bacteria spreading from your mouth to other parts of the body, evidence shows that the inflammation caused by gum disease can have ill effects system-wide. Inflammation, and ways to reduce it, have been key elements of medical research in recent years. Why would oral health be any different?

Periodontist Dr. Hatice Hasturk, who works at the Forsythe Institute, a non-profit research organization focused on oral health that’s affiliated with Harvard University, notes, “Periodontal disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation.” Dr. Hasturk and his team have been researching ways to treat inflammation-related diseases, like gum disease and atherosclerosis.

Natural approaches to dental health

When it comes to dental health, there are many natural options to choose from. Regular brushing and flossing to keep teeth and gums clean are cornerstones of dental health — but fluoride is one ingredient you don’t actually need. It might be present in virtually every conventional toothpaste and mouthwash, but that doesn’t make it right. Fluoride is linked to an array of health issues and is simply not your friend. Conventional products often contain other unsavory ingredients as well, like sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, diethanolamine, and sorbitol.

But, there are a host of ways to protect teeth naturally. One of the best things you can do, obviously, is to follow a healthy diet free of added sugars and other hazardous ingredients. Eating a diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals is key to keeping your teeth at their best. For vitamins, A, D, E, and K can all help preserve oral health. Minerals to look out for include calcium, phosphorous and magnesium.

In addition to brushing with an all-natural, fluoride-free toothpaste, another popular technique for keeping teeth and gums healthy is oil pulling. This folk remedy has serious science to back it up; recent research has shown that swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth can help reduce plaque formation and supports overall oral health.

See more tips on keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape at

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