Open Wide for Insight into Your Heart HealthIN HEART HEALTH
If you aren’t caring for your teeth and gums properly, you’re likely doing a disservice to more than just your mouth—you may be harming your heart, too.
Growing research suggests a connection between oral health and heart health. The American Academy of Periodontology reports that people with periodontal disease—a condition that inflames and damages bones and gums that support the teeth, causing tooth loss—are nearly twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease. The good news: By controlling periodontal disease, you may be able to reduce your risk for heart disease.
The precise nature of the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease isn’t yet clear, but one theory suggests that oral bacteria attaches to plaque when it enters the bloodstream and contributes to clots, which can obstruct blood flow to the heart. Another hypothesis is that plaque buildup is caused by inflammation that results from periodontal disease.
No matter the details of the connection, you can do plenty to keep your mouth healthy, and in turn, help your heart. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice per day, with gingivitis-fighting toothpaste—one that contains an antibacterial ingredient. You should also floss daily, too. Make an appointment to visit your dentist every six months.
Remember, a healthful diet and regular exercise are also important tools in the fight against heart disease.
If you have a heart condition, it’s important to let your dentist know about it because it could affect your treatment.
If you’ve suffered a heart attack, wait at least six months before undergoing any kind of dental work. Individuals who have experienced heart attack or stroke should notify their dentist if they are taking blood-thinning medications, which could hinder the individuals’ clotting ability during dental procedures.
Individuals with certain cardiac conditions may experience poor saliva production, which may necessitate the use of artificial saliva during procedures. If you have a history of heart attack or chest pain, ensure your dentist has oxygen and nitroglycerin on hand in case of medical emergency.
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Sources: perio.org, cardiosmart.org, webmd.com