Your heart and your teeth: An unexpected relationship

June 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Buck @ 4:58 pm

by Dr. Buck 25. February 2010 19:32

February is National Dental Awareness month, and is also American Heart Awareness Month.  So before the month has passed us by and we’ve turned a corner to better weather, I’d like to talk about the relationship between the mouth and your heart.  As some of you know (and some of you may not), there is a distinct relationship between periodontal or gum/bone disease and the health of your heart.  Periodontal or gum/bone disease is a disease in which bacteria, which are always in our mouth, wiggle their way down between the teeth and gums.  The sugars we eat provide food for these bacteria and then the bacteria secrete acid.  Sound gross, well it kind of is, because these acids will then cause cavities and eat away at the bone.  We can fix cavities, but when bone is gone, it’s gone.  So you loose the structure that is holding onto your teeth and then it’s time for me to start taking impressions for dentures.  This is slow process and believe it or not, is usually painless.  Do you know how we prevent this?  I have mentioned this before, schedule your preventative appointment.  Floss and brush those teeth like we recommend and let us clean those teeth at least twice a year and let us take x-rays so we can monitor any bone loss.  

So how does this relate to your heart?  Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.  Several theories are floating around to explain this.  One theory suggests the bacteria associated with periodontal disease enters into the blood stream and attach to the walls of blood vessels around the body which stimulates an inflammatory response similar to what is occurring in the gums (it’s not healthy is the gums are bleeding).  This inflammation leads to thickening of the arterial walls which can impede blood flow and cause heart attacks.  Another indicates that inflammatory proteins associated with periodontal disease causes a thickening of the arterial walls.  This then impedes the blood flow to the heart and again, leads to problems with heart function.  While no one theory has been proven as the principle mechanism, numerous processes are most likely at work.  This is why routine preventative appointments are essential to optimize your oral and overall health.  If you’d like more information about this or have questions, please give us a call.  This is an important issue that I would be happy to discuss with you.