Smiling dentist looking at man sitting in a dentist chair.

The Link Between Oral Health & Heart Health

February is American Heart Month, a great time for seniors to consider additional ways to take their health “to heart.” The old adage, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” has some truth to it.

A Link Between Heart Disease and Gum Disease:

The results of a study performed by a researcher from the University of Michigan indicate a significant link between heart disease and gum disease. The research, which focused on male seniors who were at least sixty years old, established that the participants with primary symptoms of gum disease-- bleeding around practically every tooth-- were 4.5 times more apt to have heart disease.

Although the exact correlation between heart disease and gum disease has yet to be established, the inflammation and oral bacteria associated with gum disease are thought to be factors in both conditions.

Why is this important? Unlike conditions that are purely hereditary, when it comes to gum disease, you play a significant role in its development. Gum disease is actually an infection of the periodontal tissues that develop as the gums become increasingly inflamed. The inflammation is often caused by acid from the bacteria in your mouth.

Each time you eat, the leftover food in your oral cavity becomes a meal for the bacteria that live in your mouth. As the bacteria feed, they release corrosive acid, which not only causes tooth decay but also irritates your gum tissue and makes it more susceptible to infection.

Symptoms of Gum Disease:

Here are a few symptoms of gum disease in seniors:

  • Bleeding, tender gums

  • Swelling of gum tissue

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Loose teeth

  • Dental sensitivity to heat and cold

  • Receding gum line

  • Pain while chewing

How Can You Protect Your Oral Health?

Since gum disease can become more prevalent as you age, gum health is particularly important to seniors. Here are some of the things that you can do to protect your oral health and prevent gum issues:

  • Brush Twice a Day- Each time you brush your teeth, you are clearing plaque and bacteria from your mouth. Plaque, which is a sticky mixture of oral bacteria and food particles, can coat the teeth and gums, allowing the release of bacterial acid right next to your tooth enamel and sensitive gum tissue.

  • Floss Daily- Flossing daily helps clear debris from between your teeth, where a toothbrush is usually unable to reach. If you don’t like string floss, consider using a water flosser. The concentrated stream of water from the device washes away food, plaque, and bacteria and also massages your gums to help keep them healthy.

  • Eat Healthily- By eating a balanced, well-rounded diet you can give your body, including your gums, the nutrients needed to stay healthy.

  • Go to the Dentist- You should visit your dentist regularly for routine examinations and cleanings. Research indicates that people who visit the dentist at least once a year are up to four times less prone to suffer a stroke.

Caring properly for your oral health can help you avoid gum issues and may lessen your chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke. If you suspect that you have gum disease, you should be examined by a dentist. Gum disease is reversible. To treat the condition, you may be given antibiotics. Additionally, you may have to undergo a deep cleaning to clear bacteria and plaque from the pockets of your gums. In severe cases, gum surgery may be required.

At Masonicare’s senior living communities, we provide transportation to medical, dental and vision care professionals within a 15-mile radius. This service makes it convenient for residents to receive all necessary medical and health-related care and maintain the best quality of life possible. 


For further information about our transportation services or any other inquiries you may have about Masonicare service, please call our Masonicare HelpLine at 888-679-9997, email us at info@masonicare.org. or visit www.Masonicare.org.