We often hear that there is a big connection between heart health and dental health, including gum health. It has also been found that people with cardiovascular disease have or have had poor oral and dental health. How is the heart connected to your teeth and gums and can dental problems cause heart problems?
The major connection between the heart and the oral health is the bloodstream. It is through blood that all the good and the bad, including nutrients and bacteria travel from the mouth to the other parts of the body. The bacteria cause inflammation in the weaker areas of heart and can cause various types of cardiovascular diseases or conditions. Inflammation makes the blood more prone to clotting and can therefore result into a stroke. Atherosclerosis, which is clogging of arteries can also result due to invasive microorganisms from the mouth that spread in the circulatory system. Clogging of arteries eventually can lead to a heart attack (myocardial infarction). Endocarditis is another cardiovascular condition that can be either caused by a dental infection or an infection in the gums. An inflammation of heart valves, heart muscle and heart lining is called endocarditis. Poor oral health is one of the many causes of endocarditis. Endocarditis can develop into range of major heart conditions including malfunctioning of heart valves, mitral valve stenosis and abnormal electrical conduction.
Gum disease and Heart Health – Are you at risk?
When advanced and chronic stages of gum diseases such as periodontal disease and gingivitis go undiagnosed and unchecked, they can lead to spreading of the bacteria in the blood stream. Patients with these conditions are at a highest risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Usually, the C-Reactive protein in the blood of such patients is elevated due to inflammation. The C-Reactive protein is the marker for inflammation, and this is a common test that your doctor may order if he or she suspects an inflammation in the arteries of the heart.
The key is to be aware and vigilant even if you are in the initial stages of gum disease or notice that you have a few issues with your gums. Some these could look like follows:
- Sore, swollen and reddish gums that hurt. Remember that this pain could radiate to your neck and shoulder if left untreated.
- Sensitive gums that bleed when you brush, floss or eat hard foods.
- Loose teeth that feel as if they are separating from other teeth or feel as if they are coming out.
- Continuous feeling of bad/unpleasant taste or bad breath.
- Oral infection that looks like pus.
Ignoring such conditions in their starting phase will only lead to major problems in the future. You can prevent dental infections and gum disease by maintaining good dental care habits such as regular brushing, flossing and following a healthy diet. Visiting your dentist when you see initial signs of dental infection and gum disease is very significant to safeguarding your cardiovascular health. Please do not ignore and call us now to schedule your visit if you see any of the initial stages of tooth decay or gum disease!