How's The Heart Affected By Oral Health?
We all naturally have bacteria in our mouths. Dental treatments and some daily oral care practices may allow bacteria to find their way into the bloodstream. For most people, a healthy immune system will prevent bacteria from causing any health problems. However, for some people with cardiac abnormalities or other heart conditions, having bacteria in the bloodstream can cause endocarditis. Endocarditis or infective endocarditis presents as an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart.
Preventative Antibiotics Before Dental Treatments
According to the Mayo Clinic, taking antibiotics before a dental procedure may have the ability to destroy any harmful bacteria that could lead to endocarditis.
In the past, premedication, also known as antibiotic prophylaxis, was recommended for several heart conditions. Now, premedication is solely recommended for very high-risk patients, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
The AHA recommends premedication for people who have:
- A prosthetic heart valve or a heart valve repaired with prosthetic material
- A history of endocarditis
- A heart transplant that includes abnormal heart valve function
- Some congenital heart defects
What If I Need Premedication?
If you require premedication, your dentist may consult with your physician or cardiologist to determine what's needed. Also, your cardiologist may give you an American Heart Association wallet card (PDF). This card provides information so your dentist can provide you with the proper antibiotic and dose.
Premedication is something you'll want to plan with your dentist. With their support, you'll know if going the premedication route is well-suited for you.
Why Is Proper Oral Hygiene Critical For Heart Health?
Whether you're a candidate for premedication or not, caring for your oral health is essential in maintaining heart health. Good oral health has a significant impact on blood pressure control and preventing adverse cardiovascular effects. Taking proper care of your teeth includes:
These practices prove especially crucial if your heart health requires extra care and help prevent infections that could lead to endocarditis.
If you're managing a heart condition, always remember to communicate openly with your dentist about your status. And, of course, practice daily oral care at home. It'll all help ensure that you receive the care and the support that you need. And that makes us smile!