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Heart Disease and Dental Health-What’s the Connection?


Heart Disease and Dental Health-Whats the Connection?

heart and dental health

So it’s heart month, a month when we call attention to heart disease and prevention.  However, were you aware that your dental health plays a key role in heart health, as well as the detection of disease? periodontal-disease-affects-heart-body

Cardiovascular disease and dental health are intrinsically linked.  Periodontal disease occurs when gums become inflamed. Causes of this are poor dental hygiene, diet, smoking, diabetes, and heart disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition, just like heart disease and diabetes. Many times, the risk factors for all three diseases are the same. Patients with gum disease are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, and three times as likely to have a stroke! If you suffer from periodontal disease, make sure you are seeing your dentist as well as your physician, as this is a warning sign for larger health issues. Those who have been diagnosed with periodontal disease need to flossing regularly, to remove bacteria and food that gets trapped under gum tissue. This reduces inflammation, and in turn bone loss.  In addition, eat a diet rich in antioxidants, like vegetables, fruits, and legumes. These foods reduce inflammation in the body, and help to protect the body from bacterial infections. See your dentist and physician regularly, and stay clear of processed foods that are high in sugars. This will help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, AND promote dental health!


Patients, who have suffered from heart disease, have had valve replacements, and/or other open heart surgical procedures, may need to pre-medicate prior to their dental visits. Why? Bacteria can be released when cleanings or other dental procedures are conducted. For patients who are healthy, this bacteria is harmless, but those who have cardiovascular disease or suffer congenital heart defects, are more at risk. The bacteria that are dislodged in the mouth can enter the blood stream and enter the lining of the heart, or endocardium. If this happens, an infection called endocarditis, or the inflammation of the endocardium, can occur.  Left untreated, endocarditis can damage or destroy your heart valves and can lead to life-threatening complications.  To prevent this, your cardiologist may recommend you pre-medicate with a basic antibiotic prior to your dental visits.  Previous opinion was that patients would need to pre-medicate for the remainder of their lives. Conventional opinion on this is changing, as we are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics, and decrease antibiotic resistance.

At our office, we feel strongly about educating our patients between the connection of diet and disease, as we feel this plays a huge role in your overall health.  The body does not work in isolation. When we have one disease, other parts of the body are impacted. As we work towards overall health and wellness, we treat more than just one condition. We wish you well in your journey towards health and would be happy to answer any questions your may have.

Altman Dental, located at 5462 Sheridan Dr. Williamsville, NY