Could a Dental Checkup Prevent a Heart Attack?

When you go to the dentist for a routine exam and cleaning, you are thinking about your healthy smile. In all likelihood, you are not going to the dentist for your cardiovascular wellness. However, scientists suggest that there is a vital link between gum disease and periodontal disease. Research is still underway, and health experts are not sure of the exact nature of the relationship. Nevertheless, doctors and dentists have demonstrated that gum disease is an effective way to predict your risk for heart disease. If you needed another reason to schedule your biannual dental checkup, do it for your healthy heart.

The Link between Gum and Heart Health

Gum disease is a far-too-common condition. If you suffer from periodontal disease, bacteria has gathered in your gums to form pockets in the soft tissues. Eventually, your gum tissue will pull away from your jawbone and teeth, causing missing teeth and other problems. In fact, gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in America.

Scientists have also discovered that the same bacteria present in diseased gum tissue is also present in blood clots. Some researchers believe that the bacteria directly contributes to the formation of clots, since the microbes can easily adhere to fat cells. Others speculate that because bacteria cause tissue inflammation, it will cause the arteries to harden and constrict. Whatever the exact correlation, there is no doubt that patients with gum disease are at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. According to one Swedish study conducted between 1976 and 2008, adults with 21 teeth or less (in contrast to the normal 32 teeth) had a 69% greater risk for a heart attack.

What to Expect at Your Dental Checkup and Cleaning

One of the primary purposes of a dental checkup is to prevent patients from developing gum disease and decay. Your hygienist will remove plaque and harmful bacteria from your teeth. Then your dentist will examine your mouth to look for decay and the early signs of periodontal disease. If he determines that you do have gum disease, quick and effective treatment can prevent bacteria from spreading, save your tooth, and protect your overall physical wellbeing. Typically, a deep cleaning (scaling and planing) is the most effective way to treat periodontal disease. Your dentist will remove bacteria from your gums and smooth your dental roots to prevent bacteria from accumulating on rough spots.

About Your Conroe General Dentist:

The Dental Centre of Conroe, John M Richards DDS delivers distinctive cosmetic, restorative, and implant dentistry for residents of Conroe, Houston, The Woodlands, Willis, Huntsville, and the neighboring communities. For more information about our services, or to schedule an appointment, contact us by calling (936) 441-4600.