Your Mouth and Heart Disease
Today, we often hear in the news that oral health is connected to and an important component of our overall health. More than 80 percent of Americans are living with periodontal disease which is an inflammatory condition affecting the bone and gums around teeth. Periodontal disease often goes untreated in people who don’t regularly visit the dentist because they don’t experience any pain initially and therefore don’t follow up with a dentist.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Dental Association (ADA), among other associations, both cite plenty of evidence for the association between oral health and heart disease. While the association has not been shown to be causative, that is, it has not been proven that periodontal disease causes heart disease, patients with periodontal disease had a 20% higher risk for heart disease.
Why are these things related? While there is still more research being done on finding a direct causative link between periodontitis and heart disease, if there is one, there is certainly a more general connection between the 2 conditions. Chronic inflammation in the body in localized areas like the mouth, increases the overall tax on the body as your body tries to fight these areas of chronic inflammation. Lowering your body’s defenses drains defensive resources and can lead to other problems like heart disease.
According to the AHA and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in 2017, it is recommended that patients who have had prosthetic heart valves, congenital heart disease, previous Infective Endocarditis and cardiac transplant with regurgitation engage in antibiotic prophylaxis prior to dental procedures to limit the risk or Infective Endocarditis. Your Cardiology and Dentist can tell you more specifics about these parameters.
Symptoms and Warning Signs
According to the American Association of Periodontology (AAP), you may have gum disease, even if it is in the early stages, if:
- Your gums are red, swollen and sore to the touch.
- Your gums bleed when you eat, brush or floss.
- You see pus or other signs of infection around the gums and teeth.
- Your gums look as if they are “pulling away” from the teeth.
- You frequently have bad breath or notice a bad taste in your mouth.
- Or some of your teeth are loose, or feel as if they are moving away from the other teeth.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental examinations are the best way to protect yourself against the development of gum disease. It is recommended that you brush your teeth twice a day with a soft bristle brush or an electric tooth brush such as Oral B Braun or Sonic Care brush. It is also important to floss once a day and use an ADA accepted toothpaste with fluoride. You should also visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings. We look forward to seeing you and helping you to maintain your optimal oral health!
Carolyn S. RDH