Harvard Heart Letter

Put some bite into heart disease prevention

Although the connection between oral health and cardiovascular health is still up in the air, taking care of your teeth pays off for other reasons.

The billions of bacteria and other microscopic critters living in your mouth influence the health of your teeth and gums, not to mention the sweetness of your breath. Can they also affect what goes on in your heart, blood vessels, and bloodstream?

That question hasn't been fully answered. Oral health and heart health are certainly associated, meaning that people with gum disease and tooth loss tend to have more heart disease than those with good oral health. The missing links are whether conditions in the mouth cause problems in the heart and elsewhere, and whether treating them can prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

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