Research is racing to help health care professionals further understand how periodontal diseases may be linked to cardiovascular disease. The pressure is on to get a pulse on how improved periodontal health may positively impact patients with cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Is your heart thumping yet? Relax, take a deep breath, size up this information and become the ruler of your oral and overall health.
You’re probably aware that smoking, being overweight and having high cholesterol or high blood pressure levels can thwart a healthy body by putting you at increased risk for heart disease. But, you may not know that healthy gums play a vital role in maintaining a healthy body too. For a long time, we’ve known that periodontal disease, a bacterial infection, may contribute to infective endocarditis- a possibly fatal condition in which the interior lining of the heart and heart valves inflame due to bacterial build up. As such, patients with a history of rheumatic fever, mitral valve prolapse or heart murmur often require antibiotics prior to dental procedures as a protective measure.
Today, researchers suspect that periodontal diseases may be linked to far more than infective endocarditis, including the more common forms of heart disease that cause heart attack and stroke. Seem like a massive stretch? Well, normal tasks such as chewing or brushing can injure gum tissue and allow bacterial toxins to enter the bloodstream. Scientists now believe that these bacterial by-products directly or indirectly cause an inflammation of the blood vessel wall, which results in blockage of an artery. This may be how your periodontal disease could lead to a heart attack.
Don’t let this information flow on in ‘vein’ because you or someone you know may be more at risk that you think…. Patients with heart disease are clogging up hospitals, with more than 60 million Americas (one in four) having some form of the disease and nearly $300 billion spent annually on health care and lost productivity. These statistics coupled with the fact that one in three US adults aged 30 to 54 have some form of periodontal disease, and a startling 50% of adults aged 55 to 90, build up to a potentially big problem.
See a periodontist for a periodontal evaluation, and begin taking care of your oral health today. You’ll be one beat closer to a happy heart and a healthy body!
Medication that makes your heart happy could make your smile sad.
If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or high blood pressure, your physician may have prescribed a number of different medications, some of which may affect your periodontal health or put you at risk of periodontal disease. Some commonly prescribed medications can cause dry mouth, increased plaque or enlarged gum tissue. These conditions frequently promote bacterial infections under the gum line and bad breath. Please discuss any medications you are taking with your periodontist to find our what effects, if any, they are having on your periodontal health. Your periodontist will work with you and your physician to minimise negative effects. Most of the time, just good oral hygiene and more frequent dental care is all you need to keep you smiling!