Most people take for granted their oral health for the simple reason that nobody has really died of toothache. But then, millions have died of heart attack. So how does brushing one’s teeth have to do with one’s cardiac health? According to Dr. Michael Froeschie of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute says that there is a close link between the two.
Dr. Froeschie, an interventional cardiologist, says that oral health is a factor for those people who are at risk of developing heart and heart valve infections. These individuals include those who have not had any valve replacement whether that be made of biologic material or a mechanical device.
For those who are still doubtful of this correlation, Dr. Froeschie reminds us of the normal practice of performing dental assessments on patients who are going on a heart-valve surgery. Prior and after the surgery, patients are always encouraged by their doctors to have a strict oral health regimen and make it a point to visit the dentist regularly. This is because good oral health is a patient’s first line of defense against developing valve infections. Patients should take antibiotics while visiting the dentist although greater emphasis should be on good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.
Aside from individuals with heart valves, those who are on blood thinners should be very cautious when it comes to their oral health as well. These individuals are most commonly those with stents. These stents are tubes which function to keep blocked arteries open for continued normal circulation of blood. When a person has just undergone a stenting procedure, it is mandatory that the patient be on blood thinners to prevent blood clots. However, certain dental work can cause blood clots. For this reason, there should be close collaboration between the dentist and the cardiologist.
Finally, studies are suggesting the periodontal diseases are linked to vascular diseases including the risk for developing and influencing the progression of the vascular disease. Although this correlation is not yet well substantiated, there have been studies supporting this claim. One explanation suggests that the same infection that is causing the periodontal disease is also what causes the inflammation of the coronary arteries.
Finally, people would diabetes should be more particular with their oral health since people with higher blood glucose in their systems have an increased risk of developing gum infections since bacteria will more likely thrive in environments that are abundant with sugar.
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