Your smile can certainly show if your heart is happy. Now a new study published in the Journal of Dental Research says the state of your smile can also show if your heart is healthy.
Researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland have identified a higher risk of heart disease for individuals who have hidden tooth infections. In particular, they found that study participants who had untreated dental root tip infections that required a root canal had a 2.7-times greater risk of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), which is simply an umbrella term for conditions that involve blocked blood flow to the coronary arteries.
The Heart and Mouth Link
This recent study is not the first to suggest a link between dental health and heart health. Other research has suggested that the bacterium involved in gum disease raises the risk of heart disease.
Gum disease is an infectious, inflammatory condition caused by bacteria growing on teeth in the form of a dental plaque biofilm. These infections, which can last for decades, put enormous stress on the immune system. Destructive microorganisms, inflammatory compounds, and poisonous waste materials from destroyed bacteria (endotoxins) can all seep from the mouth and circulate throughout the body—creating a systemic hyperimmune and inflammatory situation.
In the bloodstream, periodontal bacteria can invade susceptible arteries and defective heart valves. The bloodstream swarms with antibodies against these common oral microorganisms, but as the disease progresses, the antibodies also attack damaged tissue.
These microorganisms present in gum infections may also get into the bloodstream and generate a direct inflammatory stimulus in the body, initiating or contributing to cardiovascular risk. Among the major organisms is Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacterium with a platelet aggregation effect, which means it can cause abnormal clotting.
Another indirect factor may relate to people who have a genetic hyperinflammatory response to infection. They react to localized gum infection by producing excess levels of inflammatory substances in the body—such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6. High levels of these substances have been identified as risk factors for heart disease because they damage arteries.
Over the years, I have often used CoQ10 to help my cardiovascular patients. Many of them who have also suffered from gum disease have told me their oral condition improved with high dosage CoQ10. It's thought that the antioxidant action of CoQ10 helps support and nourish healthy gums.
So, for both heart and gum health—and general systemic benefits—you should be taking at least 90 mg of CoQ10 per day. I've even suggested that some patients chew up a CoQ10 pill or softgel and let it seep into the gum tissues. In addition, the dietary nutrients folic acid and vitamin C have both been linked to better overall gum health.