Dental Health = Heart Health?
Did you know that taking care of your gums and mouth can also help keep your heart healthy? Here’s an explanation of how it works from the UHC Dental Clinic team…
By brushing your teeth thoroughly to remove plaque, you are helping remove a cause of many heart problems from your body (not just keeping your teeth healthy!). As gum health increases, the narrowing of arteries through plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) decreases to a significant degree. Therefore, keeping your gums healthy may lower your risk of heart disease.
Keeping your gums healthy may lower your risk of heart disease.
Several studies have shown that people with diseased gums (periodontal disease) are more likely to suffer heart disease.
Symptoms of periodontal disease* include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth come together when you bite down
*If you have symptoms of periodontal disease, please make an appointment with the UHC Dental Clinic soon for an exam and treatment.
To exemplify how close the link between dental and heart health are, physicians and surgeons often work together with dentists to optimize the oral health of patients prior to cardiac surgery. Many surgeons are requiring a dental clearance letter or documentation stating there are no identifiable sources of infection in the mouth before performing cardiac surgery to ensure bacteria does not enter the bloodstream and infect the heart.
Some cardiovascular (heart and artery) diseases may affect your oral health as well. Cardiovascular diseases may require changes in your dental treatment and how you receive dental care; for example, you may require antibiotics before a dental procedure to help combat any bacteria that may enter the bloodstream and infect your heart. Also, your cardiovascular disease may require you to take certain medications that affect your gums or create dry mouth.
At UGA’s University Health Center Dental Clinic, we check your blood pressure and review the medications you are taking before beginning any dental treatment. Having high blood pressure is not just for the elderly. If your blood pressure is too high at your visit, we will refer you to your PCP or your personal physician for follow-up. It may just be “white coat syndrome” (anxiety at the visit only) or it may be chronic. If visiting the dentist makes you a little nervous, please read our message about the UHC Dental Clinic Staff: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dentists.
Remember to brush and floss daily. It does a body (and mouth) good!
Want more heart-healthy tips? Visit the Heart Health Fair on February 6, 2019 – 11am-3pm at the University Health Center!