The Oral-Systemic Connection – Your Oral Health & Your Heart Health
It’s been said that the mouth is the gateway to your body. While your smile is usually the first thing people notice when they meet you, your mouth also impacts you in ways that cannot be seen. Oral health is linked to your systemic, or whole body, health. This is why your Bucyrus dentist will request a complete medical history at your first appointment; when your dentist understands your medical and family history, they will be better able to care for you because your oral health conditions may affect other conditions elsewhere within your body.
The Risk Of Heart Disease
Medical providers all over the United States are dedicated to focusing on the prevention and awareness of heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 655,000 people in the United States die from cardiovascular disease each year. That’s nearly 1800 people per day! Heart disease is a top killer of both men and women of all ethnic groups within the United States.
Many people are surprised to learn that one of the most important connections between your mouth and the rest of your body is actually the connection between your mouth and your heart. In fact, according to this study from Sweden, which shows a link between heart disease and gum health, having periodontal disease (which is gum disease) increases the risk of having your first heart attack by 28%. How can this be possible?
Oral Inflammation & Heart Health
When there is inflammation in your mouth, it can cause problems within your cardiovascular system. One theory for why this happens is that oral bacteria affect the heart when it enters the bloodstream through the gums and capillaries in your mouth. After that, the bacteria will attach to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries and contribute to the formation of blood clots. Coronary artery disease, the first stage of heart disease, occurs when the walls of those arteries become thickened by the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots will block the normal flow of blood through the arteries, ultimately restricting the nutrients and oxygen that the heart needs in order to function properly and leading to a heart attack.
Another way that inflammation in your mouth can affect the health of your heart is through periodontal (gum) disease. When your gums are diseased, there will be a large buildup of plaque along your gum line. This buildup may contribute to swelling and clotting of arteries and eventually lead to heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, some of the specific bacteria that cause periodontal disease are able to destroy connective tissues inside your mouth. This suggests that when these bacteria enter the bloodstream through plaque buildup, they may be able to infect the walls of heart blood vessels causing the plaque levels inside these blood vessels to become unstable – which will inevitably lead to heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event.
Preventing Periodontal Disease & Heart Issues
One of the best ways to check for inflammation within your body is to ask your health care provider to run a lab test for C-reactive protein levels, often abbreviated CRP. This lab test takes a sample of your blood and tests it for C-reactive protein levels, which are considered to be an indication of inflammation. These types of protein levels are usually high both in patients who have periodontal disease and also in patients who have cardiovascular disease. When your Cuyahoga Falls dentist treats your periodontal disease, your C-reactive protein levels usually decrease as well, which could help prevent cardiovascular events from occurring.
It is important for patients to know that there is a medically established relationship between your oral health and your heart health. Multiple studies have found periodontal disease by itself is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, a major step toward a heart attack or more serious cardiovascular conditions. When you visit your Seven Hills dentist, be sure to provide complete medical information so that your dentist and hygienist can provide the best possible care for you. Your heart health is counting on it!
Award-Winning Family Dental Clinics in Ohio
If you’re looking for a top rated dentist, call Pure Health Dental. We make it our goal to implement best care practices in our clinics and look forward to building relationships with our patients. We welcome walk-ins and also have same-day appointments available to help meet your needs. Contact Pure Health Dental today at any of our seven convenient locations to schedule your appointment and begin your journey toward a healthy mouth!