Strange Tie Between Oral Health and Heart Inflammation

heart inflammationConnecting oral hygiene to heart health may sound like a stretch but evidence shows the two are tied together. Research shows bad oral care could lead to serious heart problems.

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have released a study that indicates a bacteria called, Streptococcus gordonii can cause blood clots and lead to heart issues if it enters the bloodstream.


S. gordonii contributes to plaque forming on teeth. If the gums are bleeding for any reason, the bacteria can then enter the bloodstream. The bacterium acts as a human protein which causes clotting. As a result, blood vessel inflammation can occur.

This latest study showing the relationship between gums and the heart hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet so the results are considered preliminary; however, the lead researchers have said the findings give them a good understanding of the relationship between bacteria and platelets that could lead to new treatments for infective endocarditis. Right now it is treated with surgery and strong antibiotics, but in recent years it has become more difficult to deal with because of growing resistance to antibiotics.

Further Evidence Regarding Tooth Decay

Harvard Medical School seems to support the theory that tooth decay, gums and overall dental hygiene can have a significant impact on our general health. Professors at the world-renowned university have stated that billions of bacteria live in the mouth and influence our health. They say several studies have shown several types of bacteria that cause gum disease have been found in the arteries of the heart. Although more study is warranted, Harvard experts believe possible inflammation in the gums could stimulate inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries.

How Tooth Decay and Damage Happen in the First Place

The studies indicate that both tooth decay and gums can play a role in the bacteria entering the bloodstream and potentially impacting the heart. Dentists explain that when you have sugar and bacteria in the mouth it creates acid. Put that acid up against a healthy tooth and it leads to decay. Tooth decay compromises the gums and allows for the bacteria to then enter the bloodstream. Below are some symptoms of tooth decay

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Toothache

Avoiding the problem

Dentists insist that tooth decay and compromised gums are easy to avoid; that preventing heart problems associated with S. gordonii is a matter of maintenance. Brushing and flossing on a regular basis to prevent tooth decay and to keep your gums strong and healthy will stop bacteria from entering the bloodstream. Here are a few tips on how to keep up with your dental hygiene and avoid life-threatening heart problems.

  • Brush properly, 5-10 minutes
  • Floss
  • Use mouth rinse
  • See a dentist for regular check-ups


In 2009 an article in the American Journal of Cardiology suggested that all cardiologists routinely ask their patients about problems with gums and periodontists ask their patients about any family history of heart disease and heart health. This seems to indicate that a growing number of medical professionals are putting more weight in the studies that link oral care to heart health.

Many medical professionals are now saying it doesn’t make sense to jeopardize your heart by ignoring simple oral hygiene.

Related Reading: Can mouthwash give you a heart attack?