Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) studies have confirmed that there is a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. Gum disease alone is a potential indicator of multiple severe heart conditions such as coronary artery disease. When bacteria from the mouth get into the blood stream, there is increased risk for other heart disease including cardio vascular disease and endocarditis. Additionally, soft body tissue inflammation, such includes gum and artery inflammation, can lead to hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis and clots, which slow down blood flow, increasing blood pressure and heightening the risk of heart attacks.
Proper oral hygiene routine and proper dental care are key for minimizing risk of heart disease. Brush and floss daily and follow all instructions from your dentist, such as taking antibiotics after a dental procedure. Complete twice-yearly dental checkups and follow up with any dental issues that arise in a timely fashion.
You should also let your dentist know if you have a heart problem and what, if any, medications you’re taking for it. Certain preexisting heart conditions put people at a higher risk of bacterial endocarditis. Inform your dentist of a history of endocarditis, artificial heart valves, heart valve damage (i.e. scarring due to rheumatic fever), congenital heart or heart valve defects, hypertrophy cardiomyopathy, and mitral valve prolapse with a murmur. Your dentist will use this information to plan appropriate treatment for your dental needs.
In addition to practicing good oral hygiene and receiving good dental care, you can decrease your risk of heart disease by eating a balanced diet, limiting smoking and use of tobacco products, keeping diabetes in check, staying hydrated, and monitoring your gum health. Any time you experience gum bleeding, consult with your dentist.