Heart Disease and Oral Health
Heart disease will claim half a million lives this year. Most adults know heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, however a consumer survey reveals 60 percent dont know that a sore or painful jaw is one warning sign that may indicate an impending heart attack, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
Research shows over 90 percent of all systemic diseasesincluding heart diseasehave oral symptoms. A sore or painful jaw could indicate an impending heart attack or heart disease, making bi-annual visits to the dentist an important investment in ones oral as well as overall health.
Careful dental examinations of patients with a history of heart disease for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation paired with proper treatment is crucial to overall health. By eliminating a local infection involving a tooth or the gums, patients have been able to decrease blood pressure medications and improve overall health.
Communication with dentists and doctors is critical in the proper diagnosis and treatment of all diseases, especially heart disease, since the longer it goes untreated there is an increased risk of heart attack.
Conversely, treating a patient with a heart condition can exacerbate the problem if the patient does not share a complete medical history, including all medications they are taking.
Gum disease, often called gingivitis in its early stages, is caused by plaque buildup and affects 75 percent of American adults. New studies suggest that people who have gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack. If bacteria in the infected gums dislodge, they can enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. Clots decrease the blood supply flow to the heart and can increase chances of a heart attack and aggravate higher blood pressure.
Signs of gum disease include bleeding or puffy gums, bad breath, sores in the mouth, receding gums, pus or infection between gums and teeth and/or gums that pull away from the teeth. Preventing plaque buildup by brushing and flossing regularly helps minimize the chance for getting gum disease. Seeing the dentist every six months can help identify gum disease as well as overall health problems in their earliest stages.
Dentists know that your teeth and gums hold important clues to overall health and can work with you to reduce your risk and treat current health problems.