The Secret Connection Between Your Teeth and Your Heart


What Does Heart Disease Have to Do With Your Teeth?

Gum disease and heart disease are two very different illnesses. Yet, there’s a peculiar link between them. Find out what the connection between your teeth and your heart is, and how protecting your teeth can also prevent heart disease.

What Is Gum Disease and Heart Disease?

Before we try to understand the connection between gum disease and heart disease, it’s important to know what’s going on in your mouth and your heart.

Gum Disease (Periodontitis)

Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a bacterial infection in your gums.

Usually, the cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. If you forget to brush your teeth regularly, you’re more likely to develop periodontitis.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Gums bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Swollen gums
  • Tender or painful gums
  • Bad breath
  • Gums appearing “pushed back” (receding)
  • Loose teeth

If you experience any of these symptoms of gum disease, it’s very important to get checked out by a dentist as soon as you can. Treating gum disease fast can prevent more serious issues in the future, such as heart disease. 

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States.

It’s a collective term for various heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease (CAD) that can lead to heart attacks.

Heart disease is a dangerous condition that can affect your quality of life and even cause death. 

Listening to the warning signs of heart disease is crucial to notice symptoms of a heart attack to seek treatment immediately.

Some of the signs of heart disease include:

  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold feeling in arms or legs
  • Numbness and weakness in your arms, legs, fingers, or toes
  • Radiating pain near your jaw, chest, shoulders, or upper back
  • Fluttering feeling in your chest
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Swelling in your legs, midsection, ankles, or undereye area 
  • Feeling very tired after short periods of movement

This list does not include all of the possible symptoms of heart disease. It’s important to visit your doctor or an emergency room if you think you may have a heart condition. 

Your Teeth and Heart: How Gum Disease Can Affect Heart Disease

Many people with heart disease have healthy gums, and a lot of people suffering from gum disease have never had heart problems.

Yet, people with gum disease are 2-3 times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

So, there must be a connection between teeth and heart, right?

Bacteria Travels From Your Teeth to Your Heart

If you have poor oral hygiene, bacteria called plaque multiply on your teeth. This doesn’t just lead to cavities, but it also affects your gums.

The bacteria will keep spreading until you find treatment for gum disease.

And it doesn’t just stay in your mouth.

Bacteria can enter your blood flow and travel to different parts of your body. The spread of this bacteria causes inflammation. The most dangerous of these places is your heart.

Bacteria From Plaque in Your Arteries

Funnily enough, the fatty deposits in your veins that cause heart attacks and strokes are also called plaque.

Don’t let the irony of that get lost on you when you find out that researchers found oral bacteria in arterial plaque as well.

Can an Infected Tooth Affect Your Heart?

Yes, the infection of a gum disease can travel through your veins.

This leads to inflammation in your veins and arteries, which allows the bacteria to attach to your heart tissues more easily.

In some cases, the bacteria from gum disease can directly infect your heart and cause life-threatening complications.

Inflammation From Your Teeth Affects Your Heart Too

When you have dental disease that causes inflammation, it can affect your entire body.

During an inflammation, even in one specific area, your immune cells attack every suspected health threat. So, how do your teeth and heart relate in regards to inflammation?

Poor dental hygiene can lead to chronic inflammation that weakens your body’s healthy tissues and cells. The tissues around your heart become vulnerable to this inflammation, making your heart more prone to disease. 

Chronic Dental Problems Put You at Risk for Heart Problems

Patients who suffer from gingivitis and other dental infections are at a higher risk for inflammatory heart problems.

As inflammation weakens your body’s immune system over time, your arteries and other heart tissues become vulnerable to damage. Inflammation sends more blood to the affected areas in your body. This allows more bacteria from dental problems to make their way through your arteries and into your heart.

Chronic dental issues are a major risk factor for teeth and heart-related health problems like endocarditis, strokes, and heart attacks. The common factor in all of these teeth and heart-linked health problems is inflammation. 

How to Prevent Teeth and Heart Complications

The best way to prevent dental problems that can lead to heart health issues is to practice good dental hygiene.

Some of the steps you can take to prevent teeth and heart problems are to:

  • Floss daily
  • Brush your teeth 2-3 times per day
  • Use antibacterial mouthwash
  • Use a soft toothbrush  
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash frequently 
  • Visit your dentist 1-2 times a year at the minimum

If you practice these habits to prevent tooth and gum problems, you can help prevent issues with your heart health too. 

It’s always a good idea to schedule regular dental cleanings (at least twice a year) to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Your teeth and heart health are more connected than you might think. With commitment and knowledge, you can fight against heart problems by improving your dental health.

Prevent Heart Disease By Going to the Dentist

If you care about your oral health, you need to visit a dentist regularly for cleanings and oral exams. Sadly, a lot of people avoid these appointments purely because of the cost.

Luckily, you won’t need to pay full price for your dental appointment if you have a Carefree Dental Card.

With the Carefree Dental Card, you can save 15-50%* off your dental bill at participating providers, per visit in most instances. For only $15.95/month for individuals and $19.95/month for families, this can mean great discounts on everything, including cleanings, oral examinations, and other dental procedures. 

Get the best deal in dental and sign up for Carefree Dental!



*Actual costs and savings vary by provider, service and geographical area.

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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