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Heart Disease and Gum Disease

You may have heard talk about how well you take care of your teeth and gums can affect your chances of having heart issues. Is this true? Well, research is ongoing. Some studies show chronic gum disease may contribute to the development of heart disease. Here’s some good information to know.

Is There a Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease?

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection. According to Cleveland Clinic, some studies show that the type of bacteria in the mouth that causes gum disease can move into the bloodstream. This elevates a C-reactive protein, a guide for inflammation in blood vessels that leads to an increase of heart disease.

According to Harvard Medical School, you may be at a two to three times greater risk of having a heart attack or another serious cardiovascular problem if you have gum disease. However, they state that there are plenty of people who have healthy gums and heart disease. There are also people who have gum disease and no heart issues.

Some connections between the health of your gums and your heart:

  • You may be at an increased risk of heart disease if you have gum disease (periodontitis)
  • Poor oral health increases your risk of a bacterial infection in your bloodstream, which can affect the heart valves.
  • If you have artificial heart valves, you should take good care of your oral health.
  • Tooth loss patterns have been tied to coronary artery disease.
  • You should be diligent in oral care if you have diabetes because that puts you at a greater risk for heart disease.

Is There an Increased Risk to Undergo Dental Procedures if You Have Heart Disease?

You should let your dental professional know about preexisting heart conditions. Some people are at risk of developing bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the heart's inner lining or the valves. Tell your dental professional if you have and are on any medications for the following conditions:

  • A history of endocarditis
  • Congenital heart or heart valve defects
  • Artificial (prosthetic) heart valves
  • Heart valves damaged (scarred) by conditions such as rheumatic fever.
  • Mitral valve prolapse with a murmur
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Your dental professional will probably want to talk with your health care providers.

How to Maintain Good Oral Health (Especially if You Have Heart Disease)

To maintain the best oral health, you should:

  • Brush at least twice a day and after each meal if possible.
  • Use floss, water flossers, or interdental brushes (also referred to as interdental cleaning) daily
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouth rinse twice each day
  • Keep up with your routine dental health appointments.
  • Make sure your dental professional knows you have a heart problem.
  • Follow advice and instructions from your healthcare provider and dental professional and take prescription medications, as directed.

It's probable that there’s a connection between oral health and heart health. Good oral health can make a positive difference. You can do it! Brush and floss after each meal. Keep up with routine dental appointments. If you currently have heart issues, make sure your dental professional knows. If not, take care of your teeth, gums, and your heart!

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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