Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of about 2,400 people every day. New medical guidelines published in the American Journal of Cardiology encourage medical and dental professionals to cooperatively diagnose and manage patients who are at risk for heart disease and stroke. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, healthy gums can ward off heart disease and prevent you from becoming a statistic.
Most people have experienced gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress and involve the deeper tissues surrounding the teeth. Gum disease leads to inflammation and bleeding, which allows oral bacteria to access the bloodstream. Research has suggested that some of these bacteria can cause blood clots in the arteries, which may contribute to blockages that lead to stroke.
Research conducted at several major universities, including the State University of New York at Buffalo, has concluded that inflammation is a common factor underlying both cardiovascular and periodontal disease. What does this mean for people living with heart disease or those at risk? Ultimately, controlling both conditions simultaneously leads to improved overall health for patients. Don’t be surprised if your dentist refers you to a cardiologist, or if your physician sends you to the dentist’s office for an evaluation.
Are you at risk for developing heart disease? There are a number of steps you can take to positively impact your health:
- If you take Statin – type medications for high cholesterol, take them consistently.
- Keep up with your medical and dental checkups.
- Eat a healthy diet. It’s good for your gums and your heart.
- Tell your dentist if you are being treated by a physician.
- Brush and floss regularly, and have regular dental cleanings.
- If your dentist tells you that you have periodontal disease, follow through with the recommended treatment… it could save your life!
Most people realize that their dental checkups are important, but people who have or are at high risk for periodontal conditionsshould be seen for more frequent exams and cleanings? Sometimes this additional service is covered by insurance and sometimes it isn’t – regardless, rest assured that your dentist is making recommendations that are in your best interests. We look forward to seeing you at your next visit and would be happy to help answer any questions you may have about managing your risks for cardiovascular or periodontal disease, and improving your overall health.