Is your bad breath killing you?

Improving the state of your gums can also boost your heart health, writes Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care

Bad breath is a signal your heart is under attack
Bad breath is a signal your heart is under attack

When your gums are bleeding and nasty whiffs are steaming from your mouth, these are not only symptoms of gum disease but also a signal that your heart is under attack.

Boffins at Hiroshima University have connected the inflammatory process that causes gums to deteriorate to increased scarring of the heart leading to atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is when the heart develops an irregular beat and takes notions to ramp up beating to an unnervingly rapid pace. The scientists examined fragments of diseased hearts that had hardened and discovered that people with more advanced stage gum disease also developed increased fibrous thickening of the upper atrium chambers of their hearts.

Like practically everything in science, direct relationships are incredibly difficult to prove. The suggestion is that if you are interested in improving heart health, as well as addressing the other more commonly recognised risk factors such as weight, exercise levels, smoking habits, and alcohol consumption, improving gum health should also be added into the mix.

In broad terms, we generally either adopt a proactive or reactive approach to our health. Reactive is like when recently I had to run for a flight, I felt as if I was going to have a heart attack and realised that I was severely cardiovascularly unfit.

If you had asked me before my mad dash, I would have replied that I felt healthy; however, underneath the surface I was completely unfit. Feeling rattled, I hurriedly bought a bike and a batch lot of Pilates classes.

Just like gum disorders which are typically silent until the end stages, so are most other body illnesses. Our bodies are working on a tiny scale and our daily habits have a cumulative effect over the years ending in either health or disease. Things are happening in our bodies for a reason.

Our bodies favour the proactive health approach where we adopt all the beneficial but 'effort-heavy' habits which need to be carried out on a daily basis.

Any immune boosting behaviours, like eating healthily, exercising, sleeping well, reducing stress, good oral hygiene, quitting smoking, breathing, or maintaining optimal body weight, all go towards minimising the inflammation in our bodies which helps us to sustain good health rather than having to fix things when they break.