According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, the first study that connected oral health and heart disease was published in 1989. This study determined that heart attack patients had worse dental health than other patients, even after accounting for other cardiac risk factors such as smoking and diabetes. Numerous additional studies have also shown similar results, although some researchers still think it may be coincidental. (1)
Also according to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, another study was conducted in 2001, where more than 4,000 individuals participated in the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Epidemiologic Follow-up Study. This 17-year study’s findings support the theory that the presence of gum disease may occur coincidentally with increased risk of heart disease, but it is not its cause. (1)
The jury is still out as to whether or not tooth decay and poor oral hygiene are directly tied to an increased risk for heart disease or not. However, the continued research indicates that there is enough evidence to continue looking into it.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Preventing tooth decay is an important part of your health and wellness regimen. Here are some important ways to keep tooth decay away:
- Visit a Professional: You should see your dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and dental exam. Your dentist should tell you if you have significant tooth decay and can give you tips to help reduce this tooth decay and prevent it in the future.
- Brush Often: While we often hear we should brush twice a day, your best bet in preventing tooth decay is to brush after every time you eat.
- Floss Regularly: Flossing prevents tooth decay by removing food particles and plaque build-up. It’s an important part of your oral hygiene regimen and should be done at least once a day.
- Use Mouthwash: After brushing, mouthwash provides another level of cleaning and can help prevent plaque build-up and tooth decay.
- Avoid Sugary Drinks and Foods: Just like you’ve heard since you were a kid, consuming too much sugar can lead to cavities, and poor oral hygiene. Snacking on vegetables is a much better alternative and can also help naturally scrub your teeth for a healthier mouth and body.