The Connection Between Dental Disease and Heart Health
Did you know that poor oral health can damage your heart and blood vessels? Multiple studies have shown how harmful bacteria moving from the mouth into the bloodstream can be for people with erosion of the tissue and bone that support the teeth. Alabama Family Dentistry can clean your teeth and perform an oral exam to determine if you are at risk for heavy oral plaque buildup. It is recommended that you visit one of our convenient offices located in Birmingham, Gardendale, Warrior and Sumitron twice annually for preventive examinations and x-rays.
Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Conditions
Periodontal disease can affect your overall health. Over time, it may increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Several studies have shown that people with periodontal disease may be more likely to have coronary artery disease than people with healthy mouths. Supporting evidence for this theory has come from research that has founded theories for the connection:
• Several species of periodontitis bacteria that cause periodontal disease can release toxins into or travel through the bloodstream and help to form fatty plaques in the arteries. These plaque deposits can lead to serious problems, such as blood clots, which can block blood flow in arteries and the heart.
• Oral bacteria in the bloodstream may also cause the body to attack itself with white blood cells. The germ-fighting white blood cells stick to the bacteria in the arteries and cause further build-up of plaque (atherosclerosis).
• Oral bacteria can cause the liver to produce high levels of certain proteins, which in turn inflame the blood vessels. Inflammation eventually could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Prevention Starts with Good Dental Hygiene
It’s important to make sure your dentist at Alabama Family Dentistry knows your complete medical history, including a list of any prescription medications you’re taking. If you have an existing heart condition, check with your doctor to find out if there are any special steps you should take before dental work and encourage your dentist to consult your doctor if necessary. Preventative dental care measures include:
• Brush your teeth at least twice a day. It is customary to brush in the morning and before going to bed. If you are able, it would be a good idea to brush after lunch when you generally eat very acidic foods.
• Floss your teeth or use a water pick at least once a day. Flossing and water picking gets the food particles from between your teeth.
• Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
• See your dentist for regular dental checkups.
Monitoring Cardiovascular Disease and Dental Health
It has been found that dental care patients with certain existing heart conditions may have a higher risk of an infection of the heart, which can be life threatening when bacteria in the bloodstream attach to damaged heart valves or other damaged heart tissue. If you have a heart condition you need to inform your dentist because dental patients with certain existing heart conditions may require antibiotics before undertaking certain types of dental procedures. Your dentist also needs a complete medical history, a list of the prescription drugs you are taking, and specifics on any existing cardiovascular conditions. This helps in determining the best dental treatments and what medications or sedating should be used in dental procedures, and some medicines, such as blood thinners, have the ability to change the way your dentist treats you. In some cases the doctor treating your heart condition and your Alabama Family Dentistry dentist will confer in case there is a problem with treatments or prospective treatments. You should wait at least six months after a heart attack to have most dental treatments. The American Heart Association guidelines recommend pre-treatment antibiotics for dental procedures that involve an incision or manipulation of the gums or the tissues around a tooth root. If you are nervous about undergoing a dental procedure because of stress or anxiety in going to the dentist, talk with your Alabama Family Dentist.
The presence of a heart condition should not deter you from scheduling regular preventative dental care and maintenance procedures. In fact, due to the interrelationship of dental bacteria and plaque formation, it is extremely important to maintain a twice yearly cleaning and exam. For your convenience, Alabama Family Dentistry has several locations servicing patients in Birmingham, Gardendale, Warrior, Sumiton, and surrounding communities.