Heart Disease and Oral Health

Thursday March 15, 2012 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

At Murray Hill, located in the West Columbus, Ohio area…serving Lincoln Village, Grove City, and Galloway, your oral health is very important to us. We came across studies that we think are critical to share with our current and potential patients because we not only care about your oral health, but the health of the rest of your body as well.

Studies suggest that a person’s oral health can affect more than just their smile. In fact, research shows that cardiovascular disease and several other systemic health conditions are directly associated with the presence of periodontal (gum) disease.

It has long been said that the mouth is the window into the rest of the body; As time goes by we continue to find this to be the truth. Conditions like diabetes, obesity, stroke and premature births are all found to be increasingly prevalent among individuals with active gum disease.

In circumstances where plaque isn’t completely removed from the surface of the teeth, it continues to build up and multiply along the gum-lines and underneath the gingival tissue. Plaque then calcifies into a hard build up called tartar, which harbors the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth loss. This bacteria causes the connective tissue around teeth to detach, and opens a flow between the bloodstream and area of infection near the tooth.

As the body’s inflammatory response begins attacking the bacterial infection along the gum-line, it places a direct strain on the rest of the body’s immune system making it less resistant to other infections. Active gum disease allows oral biofilm to travel directly into the bloodstream, beginning at the localized infection inside of the mouth. Studies show that this biofilm (plaque) can travel through the cardiovascular system and deposit itself directly into the heart and coronary arteries. The severity of the gum disease tends to correlate with the overall heart health of the infected individual. One report showed that patients who had four or more types of sub-gingival bacteria from gum disease were more likely to have a heart attack than people that had no gum disease.

The evidence goes on and on. Murray Hill Dental wants to educate our patients so that we can treat the entire body as a whole, starting with the mouth. Reversing gum disease and treating other forms of dental infection can have a direct effect on the improvement of the rest of your overall health. When the mouth is free of disease, then the rest of the body will benefit from the improved efficiency of the body’s immune system.

Our hygienists work directly with you to tailor an oral hygiene routine that will directly address your personal oral needs. Professional preventative care along with an efficient personal oral hygiene routine can reverse the gum disease process. As the bacteria are thoroughly removed on a regular basis, gums begin to heal and plaque biofilm deposits diminish. If there are areas that are hard for you to reach with traditional brushing and flossing, we can help you find a product or technique that will remove the plaque without too much effort. Even allowing it to sit for 24 hours is enough time for it to calcify into tartar. Once a tartar deposit forms on a tooth it can only be removed by a dental professional. Normal brushing and flossing cannot remove it; no matter how hard you try. Dentists and hygienists use high-speed ultrasonic instruments that remove the build up using vibration as well as flush out biofilm with an oxygenated stream of water.

We know that our patients are very health conscious so we want to help them take personal control over the factors that can affect other parts of the body. By healing gum infections you truly are reducing your risk of heart attack. If you have early stages of gingivitis it usually only takes about 2 weeks of thorough brushing and flossing for it to return to normal. Periodontal disease can take longer. The longer you wait, the more advanced it becomes. If your gums are red, bleeding or swollen, contact us for a preventative care appointment so that we can work together to get your mouth (and the rest of your body) back on track.