Many studies have been conducted to determine if there is a link between dental health and heart disease. Some results have suggested there is a correlation, while other studies have been inconclusive. It is still an ongoing subject of research. At Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, we know that good dental hygiene is essential for good overall health. But if you do have a heart condition, we need to know.
Good hygiene habits
We stress the need for good oral hygiene because it is so critical. Good oral hygiene habits include brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day. You should floss on a daily basis, and if you have dentures, keep them clean and make sure they fit properly. And be sure to have a professional cleaning and checkup twice a year.
The reason we emphasize oral hygiene so you can avoid periodontal disease. Some of the studies concluded that periodontal bacteria in the mouth could migrate into the bloodstream. If the blood vessels become inflamed as a result of infection, heart attacks and strokes could result.
If you have a heart condition, we need to have your medical history. We will also need a list of all the medications you are currently taking. This information will help us find the best course of treatment for you. We will need the names of your physicians in case we must consult with your doctors prior to any dental procedures.
If oral surgery is required, there are certain needs you will have for pain medication and anesthesia. If you have dental anxiety, are stressed or worried about other health issues, we have various levels of sedation to help you to relax. Just let us know how you are feeling and we will find the sedation that works best for you.
Specific cardiovascular problems
Myocardial infarction: If you have had a heart attack, you must postpone any dental procedures for a minimum of six months. It is okay to have your teeth cleaned—just let us know so we can have oxygen and nitroglycerin available in case of an emergency.
Hypertension: High blood pressure can present its own set of problems. Certain medications you might be taking can cause your gums to swell. In this case, we will provide you with specific oral hygiene instructions. We would also like to see you more often to keep an eye on any potential gingivitis.
Endocarditis: Patients who have had heart valve surgery are at high risk for bacterial endocarditis. Those who have pacemakers, mitral valve prolapse, or other congenital heart defects are also at risk. Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the inner lining of the heart. Poor oral hygiene can cause this heart infection by traveling through the bloodstream. It can also occur as a result of tooth extractions. For patients who are at high risk, we may need to prescribe antibiotics. Left untreated, endocarditis is usually fatal.
Blood thinners: If you are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications, we need to know. These medications could lead to excessive bleeding from a dental procedure. Stroke victims are likely to be taking warfarin, and this could be a danger following oral surgery.
Come see us
Lifetime Family Dental is concerned with your total health. If you have any further questions about dental health and heart disease, please let us know before your next appointment. Follow our guidelines for good at home hygiene habits, and come in for an exam twice a year. Give us a call for an appointment now. We hope to see you soon.