It was once thought that oral health only impacted the mouth.  More recent studies have shown that gum disease and periodontitis is also associated with heart problems and even strokes.  New research has even linked oral issues with cancers, pneumonia and low birth weight.  These findings are not without disenters, and further research is needed.dental_heart_health

One of the new associations with periodontal disease is that of bacterial endocarditis. Bacterial endocarditis is an infection that affects the the lining of the heart and can also damage the heart valves.  It is generally agreed that bacteria can enter the bloodstream from infected gums or certain dental procedures.  Once the bacteria enters the bloodstream it may activate an infection that affects the valves.

According to the American Heart Association, abnormal heart values are more likely to capture the bacteria from bacterial endocarditis.  For patients with certain pre-existing heart conditions, the American Heart Association recommends that they take medication prior to certain dental procedures, including routine dental cleanings.  This pre medication is in the form of an antibiotic drug, such as Amoxicillin and should be taken an hour before the dental visit.

About Gum Disease:

There are two major types of gum disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and can be treated and reversed if detected early. Periodontitis is a much more serious form of gum disease that is irrevesible and can lead to bone loss.  The good news is, periodontitis can be prevented with good oral hygiene habits.  Now you know why your dentist is always encouraging you to brush and floss daily.

Common symptoms of gum disease include:

Gums that bleed easily
Bad breath
Gums separating from the teeth
Loose teeth
Change in your bite

In addition to daily brushing and flossing, bi-annual visits to your dentist for routine cleanings are important for early detection and prevention of gum disease.