Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease and understanding this connection is important to keeping your heart, and smile, happy. Oral bacteria can affect the heart when it enters the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the build-up of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks.
Additionally, the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque build-up, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.
Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your periodontist and cardiologist will be able to determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotic prior to dental procedures.
Oral Health and Strokes
Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study that looked at the relationship of oral infection as a risk factor for stroke, people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were found more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.
Here’s how you can reduce your risk for periodontal disease
Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste), floss daily, avoid smoking and visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and cleaning.
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