Oral Health and Your Heart- What You Need to Know
When most people think about being monitored for heart conditions or diseases, they picture sitting in their primary care doctor’s office with leads from an EKG attached to their chest. Maybe they picture being at their cardiologist’s office having a stress echo done to see if there are any signs of stress on their heart. Most people don’t imagine sitting at their dentist’s office for a routine cleaning. But did you know that your heart health is also connected to your oral health? Sitting back in a dentist’s chair can actually help prevent certain heart conditions or disease, too.
You may be wondering what exactly your oral health has to do with your heart. Studies have shown that people who have gum disease in moderate or advanced stages have a greater risk of having heart conditions than those people with healthy gums. The link between gum disease and heart conditions lies in the bacteria found in your mouth. That bacteria can travel throughout your bloodstream and ultimately to your heart. It then can attach to a damaged area to your heart and cause inflammation. Inflammation in the heart can cause an infection in the lining of the heart, clogged arteries, or even strokes.
People with gingivitis or other chronic gum conditions are at the highest risk of heart conditions due to poor oral health. Even undiagnosed gingivitis can cause potential damage to your heart. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) more than 80% of Americans are living with gum disease. Some signs that you may have undiagnosed gum disease are:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding around the gums when brushing teeth or flossing
- Pus around the gum lines
- Frequent bad breath or strange taste in the mouth
- Teeth that feel loose or like they are moving away from each other in the mouth
Noticing these signs doesn’t mean you need to panic or that you have damage to your heart. It simply means that it’s time to be proactive about your oral health! Preventative measures are always the best way to combat a problem. Regular teeth cleanings can help prevent gingivitis before it progresses to the point where it’s a danger. In some cases, scaling and root planning may be done. In severe cases, the patient may need surgical procedures such as soft tissue grafts or guided tissue regeneration.
These procedures and cleanings don’t have to be something that scares you. Trust that your dentist has your best interests at heart and will provide you with excellent care to help prevent oral health problems before they begin and to help treat oral health problems you may have currently. Combine this by following a regular dental routine such as brushing a minimum of two times a day with a soft bristled tooth brush as recommended by the American Dental Association.
Remember that being proactive with your oral health can help prevent more than just pain in your teeth. We have one body and it all works together to help us be our healthiest selves! If you’d like to schedule your routine dental cleaning or even discuss cosmetic or restorative options, give us a call today at (248) 689-5508!