How are Heart Health and Dental Infection Connected?

how are heart health and dental infection connected

Heart disease will claim approximately 600,000 lives this year according to information provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Thus, making heart disease the number one cause of death in America. The truth is, there is a connection between heart health and dental infection.

While it may seem bizarre or even impossible to some, oral health and heart disease are indeed linked. Studies have indicated that individuals who have moderate or advanced gum disease (periodontal disease), are more susceptible to having heart disease as opposed to those who have healthy gums.

A person’s mouth and oral health can hold significant clues to a person’s overall health. Studies do show that a person’s oral health can provide useful warning signs for other conditions or diseases; heart disease is one of them.

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How can heart health and dental infection or gum disease increase the risk of a heart attack?

Because our mouth is a gateway to our entire body, those who have a chronic illness such as gum disease, are at a higher risk for suffering a heart attack according to the AGD (Academy of General Dentistry). Gum disease, which is called gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in the later stages, is caused by the buildup of plaque.

Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may also contribute to heart disease or that heart health and dental infection are related.  Oral inflammation due to bacteria may play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. It appears that harmful bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This inflammation may serve as a base for the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, possibly increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke

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What are the risk factors?

  • Diabetes
  • Poor nutrition
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Male gender
heart health and dental infection

Link #2

How can oral health warn us about heart disease?

How can heart health and dental infection be a warning sign of what is to come?

Research does suggest that more than 90 percent of systemic diseases — including heart disease, do have an oral connection. Therefore, dentists can significantly benefit patients who do have a history of heart disease by carefully examining them for signs of infection, inflammation, and or oral disease. The ADA states that the proper diagnosis and treatment of both gum and tooth infections in patients with certain conditions have reduced the need for blood pressure medications. There has also been a notable improvement in overall health in such patients.

periodontal disease and overall health on the topic heart health and dental infection

Gum Disease Warning Signs

According to the AGD (Academy of General Dentistry), gum disease is something that affects roughly 80 percent of adults in America. Warning signs which may indicate you have gum disease are:

  • Swollen, tender, or red gums.
  • Gums that bleed when flossing or brushing.
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth or receding gums.
  • Bad taste in your mouth or chronic bad breath.
  • Teeth that are separating from each other or teeth that are loose.
  • The Best Medicine is Prevention and Early Detection.

Although it true that gum disease does seem to be associated with heart disease, more studies are needed before we can say with 100% certainty what the exact relationship is. There has been no research that shows that treatment for one disease will help control and manage the other, but we can say with certainty that professional cleanings, regular dental checkups, and good home care and oral hygiene practices can improve oral health. We can also say with certainty that good oral health does indeed contribute to good overall health.

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Regular dental cleanings and exams are vital and will help remove bacteria, tartar, and plaque. They are also necessary to help detect early signs of gingivitis or gum disease. It is possible for you to play a significant role in preventing and keeping gum disease in remission (not active.) Here’s how:

  1. Make a habit of brushing two times a day, for 2-3 minutes and be sure to brush the gum line.
  2. Be sure to floss daily to help remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.
  3. Also, use a mouth rinse to help reduce plaque by up to 20 percent.
  4. Although it can be hard, try hard to eat a healthy diet. This will provide you with essential nutrients such as vitamins A and C, in particular.
  5. Avoid smoking or using e-cigarettes.
  6. Take supplements, such as Vitamin D and Omega 3.
  7. Take good probiotic if you do not get enough probiotic foods in your diet.

Here are some more commonly asked questions about how heart health and dental infection could be connected…

Can mouth bacteria cause heart problems?

Your Lincoln Dentist answers…

Oral inflammation due to bacteria may play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. It appears that harmful bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries. This inflammation may serve as a base for the development of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, possibly increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke

Can a gum infection cause heart problems?

Your Lincoln Dentist answers…

A study from 2014 shows that researchers examined people who had both heart disease and gum disease – the results? Gum disease might increase the risk of developing heart disease. In short, inflammation found within the gums and bacteria combined could eventually lead the narrowing of major arteries.

How do dental problems affect the heart?

Your Lincoln Dentist answers…

Poor oral health does put a person at higher risk for heart disease. Inflamed gums caused by the same bacteria that responsible for periodontal disease can be responsible for the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can harden.

Can an abscessed tooth cause heart problems?

Your Lincoln Dentist answers…

In Finland at the University of Helsinki, new research has shown that just like gum disease an tooth infection that goes untreated might increase your chances for developing CAD as well as many other conditions that fall under the collective term acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

Can gingivitis cause heart problems?

Your Lincoln Dentist answers…

It is important to have healthy gums. Gingivitis is a reversible gum condition and the bleeding gums associated with gingivitis can easily be treated by:

  • Completing a cleaning at your dentist
  • Flossing and brushing daily at home
  • Taking Vitamin D

If gingivitis is not reversed, it can put you at the risk of affecting your cardiovascular health.

Is tooth pain related to heart problems?

Your Lincoln Dentist answers…

Heart pain can also sometimes be noted in the teeth and jaw. Generally, it is more common for heart-related discomfort to affect the bottom or lower jaw versus the upper jaw. Anyone who feels pain in this region should seek emergency medical attention either through an emergency dentist or your local emergency room.

If you have heart disease, flossing and brushing regularly and seeing your dentist on schedule can prove extremely beneficial. It is also imperative that you make your dentist aware of your heart problem. Share your complete medical history and be sure to include any medications you are currently taking. It’s vital that you are meticulous in following your dentist’s and physician’s instructions regarding health care. Included are prescription medications, such as using antibiotics, as directed and for the amount of time indicated. So know that we know risk factors and warning signs, and that heart health and dental infection are linked – do your part and keep your mouth healthy!

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Dr. Michael Burbach

This blog is written by Dr. Micheal Burbach, your family dentist in Lincoln, NE.

Dr. Micheal Burbach practices in North Dental Clinic of Nebraska Family Dentistry.

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