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Dental care promotes a healthy heart

Last updated on June 07, 2024 First published on January 17, 2024

Infections in the mouth are usually harmless. However, their pathogens can spread in the body and trigger secondary diseases. Good oral hygiene and dental care help to prevent this.

Gum and tooth root inflammation or inflammation in the oral cavity are common. Almost everyone can remember suffering from it at least once. They often heal on their own or after dental treatment. Nevertheless, attention should be paid to inflammation in the mouth, because if bacteria or messenger substances enter the bloodstream from inflamed gum pockets, for example, they can trigger serious diseases.

Immune cells transport the bacteria

As soon as an inflammation occurs in the mouth, the immune system reacts and defense mechanisms are activated. This increases the blood supply to the affected areas so that more immune cells reach the inflamed area to render the pathogens harmless. At the same time, however, these immune cells bring more bacteria or messenger substances from the mouth into the bloodstream, through which they spread rapidly throughout the body.

People without pre-existing conditions can usually cope with this spread without any problems. However, the pathogens can cause serious illness in people with a weakened heart. “Studies indicate that endocarditis (inflammation of the inside lining of the heart chambers and heart valves) and other cardiovascular diseases could be triggered by specific oral bacteria spread in this way. The reduction in vascular function caused by these bacteria has been proven,” says Isabella Sudano, Head Physician at the Clinic for Cardiology and specialist in cardiovascular risk factors.

Treat the inflammation before the operation

It is often only at an advanced stage of such a disease that it is recognized that it is triggered by an inflammation of the gums, which may still be ongoing. Before the acute disease can be treated effectively, the focus of inflammation in the mouth must first be eliminated to prevent the infection from flaring up again. For example, it may be necessary to wait until the oral cavity is free of inflammation before performing a heart valve replacement operation.

Dental care and regular check-ups

People with pre-existing conditions and especially those with heart disease should therefore be aware of inflammation and combat it. “If you experience acute health problems, you should also tell your cardiologist or GP that you have had or have an inflammation in your mouth,” advises Isabella Sudano. The best prevention is good and consistent oral hygiene, which can almost completely prevent tooth root infections, for example. So brush your teeth at least twice a day and clean the spaces between your teeth with dental floss or interdental brushes. Regular dental check-ups and professional teeth cleaning also ensure that dental problems are detected early and possible health consequences for the heart are avoided.

Responsible specialist

Isabella Sudano, Prof. Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Department of Cardiology

Tel. +41 44 255 58 41
Specialties: Arterial hypertension, Dyslipidemia, Tobacco/nicotine cessation

Responsible Department