Gum disease = heart disease

Studies reveal that patients who suffer from some form of periodontal disease are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with coronary artery disease.  A study conducted at the University of Buffalo found that of all the types of bacteria found in the mouth, two specific strains were significantly associated with increasing heart attach risk.  The two culprits are Tannerella forsynthesis and Preventella intermedia and these enter the bloodstream through irritated and vulnerable gums.  Although research is still preliminary, experts have found oral bacteria clumped in artery plaques, which contributes to blocked arteries and further promotes atherosclerosis.

There is also an inflammatory oral bacteria, called Streptococcus viridans, can find its way into the circulatory system.  While these bacteria may not contribute to narrowing of the arteries, they can settle and grow on the valves of your heart, causing endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart.

In short, gum disease is not just a problem for your smile, it’s a concern for your heart and circulatory system.

Back in 1997, the American Heart Association started recommending antibiotics before dental treatment and cleanings for those patients who already suffer from heart conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or mitral valve prolapse.   This recommendation changes as our research improves.  If you have a heart condition, or if you have had any surgery for your heart in the past, talk to your cardiologist about your possible need for an antibiotic before your dental appointment to keep you safe.

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Posted in: Dental, Dental Hygiene, General Dental Information

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