The Connection Between Oral Health and Heart Disease

Many people overlook the significant connection between oral health and heart disease. However, research increasingly shows that what goes on in your mouth can affect your heart. At South Hill Comprehensive Dentistry in Spokane, WA, Dr. Ulysses Lee Vargas emphasizes the importance of understanding this link to protect your health.

The Oral-Systemic Health Connection

Oral health is not just about having a bright smile. It’s also about maintaining the overall health of your body. The mouth is a gateway to your body’s internal systems, and poor oral health can lead to various systemic issues, including heart disease.

How Oral Health Affects the Heart

  1. Inflammation and Infection: Periodontal (gum) disease is a common infection that can lead to inflammation throughout the body. The bacteria from inflamed gums can enter the bloodstream, causing blood vessel inflammation and damage. This process contributes to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
  2. Endocarditis: Poor oral hygiene can also lead to endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves. This occurs when bacteria from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in the heart.
  3. Chronic Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, which are linked to gum disease, also have a profound impact on heart health. The interplay between these conditions highlights the importance of maintaining good oral health to prevent heart-related issues.

Prevention Strategies

  1. Regular Dental Visits: Visiting your dentist regularly helps catch oral health issues early before they can impact your heart. Dr. Vargas recommends bi-annual check-ups and cleanings to maintain optimal oral health.
  2. Proper Oral Hygiene: Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can significantly reduce the risk of gum disease and subsequent heart problems.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Eating a balanced diet, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol can improve both your oral and heart health. Regular exercise also plays a crucial role in maintaining overall wellness.

Warning Signs to Watch For

Be mindful of symptoms like bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, loose teeth, or gum recession. These can be early signs of periodontal disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to more severe health issues, including heart disease.

Dr. Vargas’s Approach to Comprehensive Care

At South Hill Comprehensive Dentistry, Dr. Vargas takes a holistic approach to oral health, understanding its role in overall wellness. He works closely with patients to manage their oral health, considering its potential impact on heart health.

Final Thoughts on Oral and Heart Health

Understanding the link between oral health and heart disease empowers you to take proactive steps in your healthcare routine. By prioritizing your oral hygiene and working with a knowledgeable dentist like Dr. Vargas, you can protect your smile and heart.


  1. American Heart Association. (2020). Oral Health and Heart Disease.
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Oral health: A window to your overall health.
  3. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. (2020). Periodontal Disease.

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