A Biological Dentist’s Approach to Oral Health and Heart Disease


As February rolls around, so does American Heart Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about cardiovascular health and disease prevention. While discussions often focus on factors like diet, exercise, and stress management, one crucial aspect often overlooked is oral health. As a biologic dentist, I am keenly aware of the intricate connection between the health of the mouth and the health of the heart. In this blog, I want to help shed more light on this undeniable connection.

For decades, researchers have been investigating the link between oral health and cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that poor oral health, particularly gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis), may increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions. But why the connection?

How Oral Health And Heart Disease Are Connected

The mouth serves as a gateway to the rest of the body, and when it harbors harmful bacteria, it can lead to inflammation and infection not just locally, but systemically as well. In conditions like gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream, triggering an immune response that causes inflammation throughout the body. This chronic inflammation is believed to play a significant role in the development and progression of various cardiovascular conditions, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart attack, and stroke.

Moreover, certain bacteria associated with gum disease have been found in the plaque buildup within coronary arteries, suggesting a direct link between oral bacteria and the formation of arterial plaques. These plaques can narrow the arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart and increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The Importance of Preventative Oral Care For A Healthy Heart

As a biologic dentist, my approach to oral health goes beyond just treating symptoms; it focuses on addressing the underlying causes of disease while promoting overall health and wellness. Preventive measures such as regular dental check-ups, professional cleanings, and proper oral hygiene practices are paramount in maintaining optimal oral health and reducing the risk of gum disease. Another key is to focus on using the right oral care products, avoid fluoride and harsh mouthwashes that strip your mouth of its good bacteria!

Adopting a biologic approach also involves understanding the impact of lifestyle factors on oral and systemic health. A balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking are all integral components of maintaining a healthy mouth and a healthy heart.

The Power of Collaboration

Collaboration between dental and medical professionals is essential in promoting holistic health and addressing the intricate connection between oral health and heart health. By working together, we can ensure that patients receive comprehensive care that considers the entire body, not just isolated symptoms or conditions.

As we observe American Heart Health Month, let us not overlook the vital role that oral health plays in cardiovascular wellness. By prioritizing good oral hygiene habits, seeking regular dental care, and embracing a biologic approach to oral health, we can take proactive steps to protect not only our smiles but also our hearts.

Remember, a healthy mouth can lead to a healthier heart. Let’s make heart-healthy choices, starting with our smiles.

Dr. Gerry Curatola is a renowned biologic restorative dentist with more than 40 years of clinical practice experience.

He studied neuroscience at Colgate University and attended dental school at the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry where he now serves as Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care.