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Heart Issues … Have You Seen Your Dentist?

Jan 31, 2024 07:45AM ● By Ingo Mahn, DDS
A woman holding a tooth mirror up to her mouth.


When you think about heart health, consulting with your dentist is probably the last thing on your mind. It turns out that the relationship between oral health and cardiovascular health is a topic gaining increasing attention in the medical field. More and more studies point to a connection between the health of your teeth and gums and the health of your heart.
One crucial aspect that links oral health to cardiovascular health is gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. The bacteria that cause gum disease enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums, leading to systemic inflammation. This inflammation contributes to the development of cardiovascular conditions, such as atherosclerosis, where arteries become narrowed due to the buildup of plaque. Consequently, maintaining healthy gums through regular dental care plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of heart disease. Maybe it isn’t a coincidence that the buildup on your teeth and your arteries are both called “plaque.”
Fortunately, proper oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups, are fundamental in preventing gum disease. These habits not only promote strong teeth and gums but may also contribute to overall cardiovascular health. Regular dental cleanings can remove plaque and tartar, preventing the progression of gum disease and mitigating its impact on the heart.
While good oral hygiene is important, the way we breathe plays an even more critical role. Breathing through your nose, as opposed to mouth breathing, has been associated with numerous health benefits. Nasal breathing filters, humidifies and warms the air entering the lungs, promoting optimal respiratory function. Nasal breathing also allows nitric oxide to be produced in the paranasal sinuses. Why is that important? Well, nitric oxide (the active ingredient in Viagra) is a potent vasodilator and allows oxygen to actually get to where it is needed. As a result, proper breathing patterns contribute to lower blood pressure and reduced stress on the heart, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Considering the significance of good oral health and proper breathing patterns, adopting habits that promote both becomes crucial. You can achieve almost immediate health benefits by consciously shifting from mouth to nasal breathing.
It's important to note that while the connection between oral health and cardiovascular health is supported by research, it's not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Individual health factors, genetics and lifestyle choices also play pivotal roles in determining overall health outcomes. Nevertheless, the evidence suggests that proper breathing and taking care of your teeth and gums do in fact contribute to a healthier heart. As the medical community continues to explore these connections, maintaining a comprehensive approach to health that includes good oral care and proper breathing will hopefully get the attention it deserves.

Dr. Ingo Mahn is a 1985 graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry. He is an accredited member of the IAOMT (International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology) and earned a doctorate in integrative medicine from Capital University, in Georgetown. He is the founder of Natural Dental Partners (602-775-5120), a health-centered dental practice in North Scottsdale. Visit for more information.