The Impact of Oral Bacteria on Heart Health: What You Need to Know

The Impact of Oral Bacteria on Heart Health: What You Need to Know

Most people know that brushing and flossing are essential for a bright smile and healthy gums, but did you know that oral hygiene can also affect your heart health? Read on to learn more about the connection between oral bacteria and the cardiovascular system.

Understanding Oral Bacteria

Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria, both good and bad. These microorganisms are part of a complex ecosystem known as the oral microbiome. While some bacteria are beneficial and help with digestion and maintaining oral health, others can cause problems if they grow out of control.

When we don’t properly care for our teeth and gums, harmful bacteria can accumulate and form plaque, a sticky film that clings to our teeth. If you don’t regularly brush and floss to remove plaque, it can harden into tartar, causing gum inflammation and leading to infections like gingivitis and periodontitis.

Oral Bacteria and Heart Health

Research suggests a compelling link between oral health and heart health. Here’s how the bacteria in your mouth can impact your heart:


Gum disease (periodontitis) causes chronic inflammation in the mouth, which can release harmful bacteria and inflammatory markers into the bloodstream, potentially leading to inflammation in other body parts, including the arteries.


Inflammation from oral bacteria can lead to atherosclerosis, where plaque buildup narrows and hardens the arteries. This restricts blood flow and raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes.


Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through infected gums and attach to damaged areas of the heart, potentially causing endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining and valves.

Increased Blood Pressure

Some studies indicate that periodontal disease may contribute to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Key Studies and Findings

Several studies have highlighted the connection between oral bacteria and heart health:

How Oral Bacteria Travel to the Heart

You might be wondering how bacteria in your mouth can make their way to your heart. Here’s the journey these bacteria can take:

Entry Through Gums: Poor oral hygiene can cause gum disease, which creates openings or pockets in the gums. These openings allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

Circulation in the Bloodstream: Once in the bloodstream, oral bacteria can travel throughout the body. The immune system will try to fight off these invaders, but if it’s overwhelmed, the bacteria can reach and affect other organs, including the heart.

Attachment to Heart Tissue: If the bacteria reach the heart, they can adhere to damaged areas, particularly if there are existing heart conditions such as valve damage.

Preventing Oral Health Issues and Protecting Your Heart

Here are some tips to help you keep your mouth and heart healthy:

Brush and Floss: Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and flossing twice daily helps remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth.

Use Antibacterial Mouthwash: An antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce harmful bacteria in your mouth, providing an extra layer of protection.

Regular Dental Check-ups: Book a dental appointment twice yearly for professional cleanings and check-ups.

Avoid sugary foods: Every time you eat or drink anything sweet, plaque acids assault your teeth for up to an hour. This is because sugar reacts with bacteria in the plaque, producing toxic acids. It’s critical to limit sugary meals and beverages to mealtimes only. If you feel hungry between meals, consider foods that are gentle on your teeth and have no added sugar.

Avoid Tobacco Products: Smoking and using other tobacco products increases the risk of gum disease, oral cancers, respiratory infections, and delayed healing after dental procedures.

Manage Health Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and respiratory diseases can impact oral health. Managing these conditions can help reduce the risk of gum disease and its complications.

The Role of Healthcare Professionals

Dental and medical professionals are essential in maintaining your oral and heart health. Your dentist can identify and treat oral health issues affecting your cardiovascular health. At the same tim, your doctor can monitor and manage heart-related conditions that might have oral health implications. Communicating openly with your dentist and doctor about your health concerns and treatment plans is important.


Maintaining proper dental hygiene and adopting a healthy lifestyle may dramatically lower the risk of oral and cardiovascular illnesses. Remember that a healthy mouth leads to a healthy heart, so brush, floss, and see your dentist frequently. Your heart will thank you.

At Affinity Dental, we are dedicated to making dental care accessible and affordable for you and your family. When you choose one of our dental plans, you can access a vast network of over 2,000 skilled and professional dentists. Our benefits include mouth examination, scale and polish, intraoral radiographs, infection control, and more. Contact Affinity Dental for helpful advice on which dental plan best suits you and your family, and visit a network Dentist for more ways to keep your smile healthy.

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