In the last several years, studies have shown that your oral health has a direct link to your systemic health. Most of these links stem from periodontal disease, which doctors have linked to diabetes, pregnancy complications, and most notably, heart disease. While studies continue into the link between oral health and heart disease, we can provide you with information to help you stay on track for a healthy mouth and heart. To learn more about the link between oral health and heart disease, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, call our Docklands dental office today at (03) 9027-9487.
Scientists have found two different connections between oral health and heart health. First, studies have found that patients with healthy gums have less occurrence of heart disease than those with moderate or severe forms of gum disease. Studies continue in an effort to find the actual connection between the two, but many have theorized that the bacteria associated with infected gums can break loose and enter the bloodstream. Once there, they attach to the blood vessels and cause clots to form. Others speculate that the inflammation of the gums, common with periodontal disease, triggers the body to form clots. When these clots form, the blood flow to the heart decreases. This causes the blood pressure to become elevated and can lead to a heart attack. Still another theory states that the bacteria associated with periodontal disease cause the liver to ramp up production of certain types of proteins. This overproduction of proteins can cause an inflammation of the blood vessels, leading to possible heart attack or stroke.
The second connection involves oral health as an indicator of other health issues. Researchers have found that many systemic health issues may have oral symptoms, including diabetes and heart disease. By examining a patient’s gums, a dentist can find warning signs of heart disease, such as pain, inflammation or infection.
Can Dentists Help Reduce the Threat of Heart Disease?
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, properly diagnosing and treating patients with infections in their gums and teeth has helped reduce the risk of heart disease. Many patients have seen a reduction in the amount of blood pressure medication they need to take, and others have seen vast improvements in their overall health. Patients should advise their dentist if they currently suffer from heart disease, and what medications they take, so the doctor can correctly diagnose and treat any infections.
How Heart Disease Affects Dental Treatment
Some patients with particular heart conditions may require antibiotics before dental treatment, to protect against endocarditis, an infection of the heart. This infection occurs when bacteria attach themselves to damaged tissue in the heart, and it can be fatal. Patients who have endocarditis, or have had it in the past, will need to advise their dentist of this, as should patients with artificial heart valves or those who have had heart transplants. Most of these patients will require antibiotics before dental treatment. Patients with certain heart defects, present since birth, may also need pre-treatment with antibiotics. In addition, the American Heart Association recommends pre-treating all patients with antibiotics before any procedure that involves cutting or manipulating the gums or the tissue surrounding the roots of the teeth.
Call Us Today
To learn more about the connection between your oral health and heart health, contact our Docklands dental office today.