Heart Disease and Oral Health
Your dentist and dental hygienist about your gum health
Your dentist about your medical history, including heart disease and other heart conditions, and all the medications that you are taking
Keep your mouth and gums as healthy as possible, as gum disease makes it more difficult to manage already-existing heart disease.
To brush thoroughly at least twice a day as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist, and to clean between the teeth with either dental floss or an interdental brush
I have recently been diagnosed with heart disease. What should I know about the link between oral health and heart disease?
Years of research have shown a link between oral health, particularly gum diseases, and general health. Both cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease are chronic inflammatory conditions; so many researchers believe that inflammation may be the common link. More research is still needed to determine if these conditions are really linked, but it is known that periodontal disease may make it more difficult to manage already-existing heart disease. Both conditions cause a burden of inflammation on the body.
Your physician or cardiologist will work with you to decrease your risk of future heart disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist can help you reduce the burden of inflammation that starts in the mouth by working with you to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Good gum health starts with effective oral hygiene, performed in accordance with the advice of your dental team, and using the best brushes and oral care devices suited to your mouth and dental condition.
Figure: Chronic Inflammation is the common element between gum disease and chronic heart disease
Your dentist needs to know all the medications you are taking and will ask you several questions about your medical history. This is important as it affects your dental treatment, your care while in the dental office, and may affect your oral health. In preparation for your dental visit:
- Make a list of all your medications (names and dosages), or collect them all together in a bag and take them to the dental office
- Try to recall all aspects of your medical history, in particular:
- Hospitalizations and surgeries
- Bleeding problems
- High blood pressure
- Names and phone numbers of all other doctors with whom you are under care.
If you have certain heart conditions, you may be at risk for developing infective endocarditis—an infection of the heart’s inner lining and valves. These conditions include:
- Artificial heart valves or heart valves repaired with artificial material
- A history of endocarditis
- A heart transplant with abnormal valve function
- Certain congenital heart defects
The American Heart Association has issued recommendations for antibiotic prophylaxis for these and other conditions for people undergoing certain dental procedures. It is important to notify your dentist so the proper precautions will be taken. Your dentist may need to contact your cardiologist or physician.
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