Poor Oral Health Linked to Heart Disease
Monday, November 21, 2016
There is nothing like talk of heart disease, the top killer of Americans today, to strike fear in a room. Predictable approaches to preventing a heart attack or stroke usually include managing cholesterol levels with a diet low in saturated fat, but what if the secret to lowering the risk of having a life threatening artery blockage was hiding in our mouths?
If your poor gums only get flossed the week before visiting the dentist, you might want to seriously reconsider your oral hygiene routine. Inflamed and bleeding gums do more than just threaten dental health. A growing number of studies show a clear connection between having poor oral health and heart disease. Scientific research also shows a link between poor oral health and other inflammatory diseases like arthritis and Alzheimer’s. The commonality is chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body that begins with an infection in the mouth.
Biofilms and Infection
Gingivitis and gum recession can be symptoms of biofilm formation, meaning that germs in the mouth have formed a slimy coating that is highly resistant to your immune system. Biofilms can be bacterial and/or fungal in nature and often involve an overgrowth of Candida albicans, a fungus that naturally inhabits your digestive tract. They present a significant health challenge.
If you have open blood vessels from bleeding gums, oral bacteria and biofilms can enter your bloodstream. When bacteria take up residence in the body, they activate an inflammatory response from the immune system. This leads to immune cells inappropriately targeting delicate cells lining the circulatory system, a factor that can lead to hardening of the arteries.
Another factor that increases your risk for heart attack and stroke is plaque formation in the arteries. When biofilms enter circulation, they attempt to hide from your immune system behind platelets, cells that are responsible for blood clotting. Without platelets, you would bleed to death from any small cut. When combining biofilms and inflammation, plaque formation occurs. Plaque builds up in the arteries and increases your risk of having a heart attack and stroke.
Improving Oral Health
The clear connection between America’s #1 killer and poor oral health should inspire you to improve your oral health. Beyond the obvious oral hygiene practices of brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly, taking these additional steps to improve oral hygiene will help protect you from the chain of inflammatory reactions that result from an oral infection.
1. Clean Up Your Diet. You can imagine that when the goal is to reduce inflammation in the mouth, what you eat is going to matter! The Standard American Diet (SAD) contains a high amount of sugar which is highly inflammatory. Excessive sugar and alcohol intake is like gasoline on a fire for bacterial and fungal growth. The Holiday season is a prime time when biofilms are allowed to grow out of control and it can take months to get them under control again. Just say no to sugar and prevent bacterial overgrowth in the first place.
2. Swish and Spit. Using a mouthwash with a base of alcohol like the conventional blue or green rinses from the drug store isn’t going to do much more than mask bad breathe. In fact, by drying out your mouth, those mouthwashes can actually foster more bacterial growth later in the day! Instead, swish colloidal silver in your mouth to kill bacteria. Colloidal silver has been used for thousands of years to fight bacterial infections naturally. Modern day research shows it is also effective at killing fungus like candida that can lead to biofilms. It can also be used as a natural denture or retainer rinse, as these are a common breeding ground for candida biofilms.
3. Use Nutrition. Nutrition can offer your mouth support from within. Symptoms are improved by getting to the root cause of the issues rather than just masking them. Just as your digestive tract needs to have a balance of flora, so does your mouth. Acidophilus in a probiotic supplement has been proven to inhibit the growth of problematic bacteria in the mouth. Before bed and after brushing, gargle an opened probiotic capsule and swallow. Oregano oil and colloidal silver are very effective natural antibacterials that can be swallowed to fight infections throughout in the body. They also tend to be easier on the beneficial flora of the mouth and digestive tract than traditional antibiotics. An overgrowth of candida is often behind various periodontal problems. Keep it in check with lactoferrin and short chain fatty acids which are effective at reducing yeast overgrowth that can lead to hostile biofilm formation.
Knowing that we can reduce our risk of developing heart disease, by improving our oral hygiene is rather eye opening. Remember to floss and brush more often, visit your dentist regularly to catch periodontal issues, and incorporate these simple steps into your routine to improve your oral health and reduce your risk of heart disease. Now that’s something to smile about!
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