Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States?
The importance of cardiac health cannot be underscored.
Gum Disease and Heart Health
Two potential risk markers for cardiac disease are gingivitis and tooth loss. Left untreated, gingivitis and quickly escalate into gum disease.
“The research linking gum disease and heart disease dates back more than 20 years,” explained one Aventura periodontist in an interview with the Miami Herald. The research indicates that bacteria can enter the bloodstream through gum tissue and trigger a cycle of inflammation that narrows the arteries, contributing to heart attacks and stroke. In fact, these studies indicate that people with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease.
Despite the extensive evidence that a relationship exists, science has yet to identify the direct link between gum disease and cardiac disease. Enough of a relationship exists, however, that the American Heart Association recommends a dose of antibiotics before dental and upper respiratory procedures to prevent endocarditis (a heart infection) for high risk patients.
The Role of the Prosthodontist in Treatment of a Patient with Cardiac Disease
A prosthodontist will perform a complete oral, head and neck exam and can coordinate treatment between other dental specialists to correct decayed, loose or missing teeth and inflamed gums. Dental implants can discourage bone loss from periodontal disease, and can protect the gums from infections caused by outside factors, like smoking, from entering the bloodstream. By restoring oral health, they can reduce the potential risk of negative cardiac effects.
Identifying Gum Disease
• red, irritated gums
• bleeding after flossing
• pain when you chew or bite
• receding gums
If you think you have gum disease, you should visit your dentist. “Most people don’t go to the dentist until they have a problem,” explains Dr. Tal Morr, “When people come to my office, usually they are at the end stages, and we are discussing options for replacing teeth that have been lost.”
We can only hope that science finds the answers it’s looking for, and brings the connection between oral health and overall health to more people’s attention. Until then, regular dental visits can keep bad plaque buildup in check.