Most people are aware of the connection between heart disease and smoking, but did you know that there is also a link between gum disease and heart disease? In fact, studies have shown that gum disease is linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Here’s what you need to know about the connection between these two conditions.
What is the Total Health Link?
Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection. According to Cleveland Clinic, some studies show that the type of bacteria in the mouth that causes gum disease can move into the bloodstream. This elevates a C-reactive protein, a guide for inflammation in blood vessels that leads to an increase of heart disease.
According to Harvard Medical School, you may be at a two to three times greater risk of having a heart attack or another serious cardiovascular problem if you have gum disease. However, they state that there are plenty of people who have healthy gums and heart disease. There are also people who have gum disease and no heart issues.
Some connections between the health of your gums and your heart:
- You may be at an increased risk of heart disease if you have gum disease (periodontitis)
- Poor oral health increases your risk of a bacterial infection in your bloodstream, which can affect the heart valves
- If you have artificial heart valves, you should take good care of your oral health
- Tooth loss patterns have been tied to coronary artery disease
- You should be diligent in oral care if you have diabetes because that puts you at a greater risk for heart disease
Is There an Increased Risk to Having Dental Treatment Done?
You should let your dentist know if you have heart disease or any other pre-existing heart conditions, including:
- A history of endocarditis
- Congenital heart or heart valve defects
- Artificial (prosthetic) heart valves
- Heart valves damaged (scarred) by conditions such as rheumatic fever.
- Mitral valve prolapse with a murmur
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Your dental professional will probably want to talk with your health care providers.
How to Maintain Good Oral Health
To maintain the best oral health, you should:
- Brush at least twice a day and after each meal if possible.
- Use floss, water flossers, or interdental brushes (also referred to as interdental cleaning) daily
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouth rinse twice each day
- Keep up with your routine dental health appointments.
- Make sure your dental professional knows you have a heart problem.
- Follow advice and instructions from your healthcare provider and dental professional and take prescription medications, as directed.
Gum disease is a serious condition that can lead to a number of serious health problems, including heart disease. If you have gum disease, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible in order to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular problems. You can also reduce your risk by quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.