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Mouth and Heart Connection

Mouth and Heart Connection

Cardiovascular disease is a class of disease that affects the heart and/or blood vessels and common diseases in this category include: High Blood Pressure, coronary heart disease (acute heart attack and Angina pectoris), stroke and heart failure. Studies have shown that there is a link between cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease, the chronic inflammation, infection of gums and surrounding tissue. Forms of gum disease such as Gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis (bone loss) can be indicators for cardiovascular problems , which is why it is very important for individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease to visit their dentist on regular basis, practice good oral hygiene and keep their dentist informed of any oral and overall health issues.

How are periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease connected?

It has been suggested that the inflammatory proteins and bacteria associated with gum disease enter a person’s bloodstream and can cause various effects on the cardiovascular system. A study published in the February 2005 issue of Circulation examined the presence of the bacteria known to cause periodontitis and the thickening of the blood vessel wall typically seen in heart disease. After examining samples from more than 650 participants, the investigators concluded that the presence of the same bacteria known to cause periodontitis was associated with an increased level of blood vessel thickening.

What can I do keep my gums and heart healthy?

Practicing proper oral hygiene is essential to maintaining healthy gums. This includes flossing regularly, brushing twice a day with antibacterial toothpaste, and visiting a dentist at least every six months. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help improve both your cardiovascular health and your overall health.

What do my physician and dentist need to know?

It is important to keep all medical professionals up-to-date on your oral and overall health issues. Inform your physician if you have been diagnosed with a form of periodontal disease or are experiencing any issues with gum inflammation. Likewise, inform your dentist if you have been diagnosed with any form of cardiovascular disease, have experienced any cardiovascular problems, or have a family history of cardiovascular disease.

What other risk factors are associated with cardiovascular disease?

Individuals who are most at risk for cardiovascular disease include those over age 65, certain cultural groups, and males. While these particular factors cannot be changed, there are some risk factors that you can change through lifestyle management and/or medical treatment to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. These risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress. Questions? Be sure to ask your physician and dentist.

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

It is estimated that up to 20 million people have diabetes, but only two-thirds of these individuals are diagnosed. Studies have shown that diabetics are more susceptible to the development of oral infections and periodontal (gum) disease―than those who do not have diabetes. This relationship causes great concern because serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood sugar control and contribute to the progression of diabetes. That’s why it’s important for people with diabetes to visit a dentist on a regular basis and to keep the dentist up to date on the status of the diabetic’s oral and overall health.

How are Gum disease and Diabetes related?

Because diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, the gums are at risk for gingivitis, a reversible form of gum disease usually caused by the presence of bacteria. These bacteria produce toxins that create a sticky film that accumulates on teeth, both above and below the gum line, leading to inflammation. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, an irreversible destruction of the tissues that surround and support the teeth.

What other problems are associated with diabetes?

Other oral problems associated with diabetes include thrush (candidiasis), an infection caused by a fungus that grows in the mouth, and dry mouth, which can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and cavities. To prevent problems with bacterial infections in the mouth, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, medicated mouth rinses, and more frequent cleanings.

How can I stay healthy?

Brush your teeth with an antimicrobial toothpaste containing flouride and rinse with antimicrobial mouthwash at least two times a day. People with diabetes who receive good dental care and have good insulin control typically have a better chance of avoiding gum disease. To improve their quality of life and their oral health, people with diabetes need to pay close attention to diet and exercise. People with diabetes should be sure that both their medical and dental care providers are aware of their medical history and periodontal status.

To keep teeth and gums strong, those with diabetes should be aware of their blood sugar levels in addition to having their triglycerides and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis.

What is the best time to receive dental care?

If your blood sugar is not under control, talk with both your dentist and physician about receiving elective dental care. Types of dental procedures and appointment length are dependent on the level of diabetic control. Also, schedule morning appointments because blood glucose levels tend to be more stable at this time of day. If you have a scheduled appointment, eat and take your medications as directed. See your dentist on a regular basis, keep him or her informed of your health status.

Brushing For Two

If you are planning to become pregnant or suspect you are already pregnant, It is important to see your dentist. Pregnancy may cause unexpected oral health changes due the hormones- particularly increase in estrogen and progesterone, which can exaggerate the way in which gum tissue reacts to plaque. Research continues to show that overall health and oral health coincide, so it is especially important for you to maintain good oral health throughout your pregnancy. Visiting your dentist will allow him or her to assess your oral condition and map out a dental plan for remainder of your pregnancy.

How does a plaque buildup affect me?

When plaque is not removed, it can cause gingivitis- red, tender, swollen gums that are more likely to bleed. So called “Pregnancy Gingivitis” affect most pregnant women to some degree and generally begin to surface as early as second month of pregnancy. If you already have gingivitis, condition is likely to worsen during pregnancy. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis more serious form of gum disease that includes bone loss.

How does gingivitis affect my baby’s health?

Research suggests a link between pre-term deliveries, low birth weight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria can enter the bloodstream through your gums, bacteria can travel to uterus triggering the production of chemicals called prostaglandins which are suspected to induce premature Labor.

How can I prevent Gingivitis?

You can prevent gingivitis by keeping your teeth clean especially near the gum line. You should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and after each meal when possible. You also should floss. Good nutrition keeps the oral cavity healthy and strong, in particular you should get plenty of Vit. C and B12. More frequent cleanings from your dentist will also help control plaque and prevent gingivitis.

What are Pregnancy Tumors?

Pregnant women are at risk for developing pregnancy tumors- inflammatory, noncancerous growths that develop between teeth when swollen gums become irritated. These localized growths or swellings are believed to be related to excess plaque. Normally, the tumors are left alone and will shrink on their own after baby’s birth; however if a tumor is uncomfortable and interfere with chewing, brushing and other oral hygiene procedure, your dentist may decide to remove it.

Are there any dental Procedures I should avoid?

Routine exam and cleaning can be performed throughout the pregnancy; however nonemergency dental procedures should only be performed only in second trimester of pregnancy. Dental Emergencies that create severe pain can be treated during any trimester. But your obstetrician should be consulted during any emergency that require anesthesia or whenever medication is prescribed. Dental X-rays should only be taken for emergency situations. Lastly, elective or cosmetic procedures should be postponed until baby’s birth.