A whopping majority of people tend to put their oral health on the back burner. They show up at the dentist when something drastic happens, when they are in pain due to some dental problems. On the other hand, when it’s a question of the matters of the heart, biologically speaking, nobody wishes to take a chance and they follow doctor’s advice religiously. But did you know that your oral health could impact your cardiovascular health too? How, you may ask? Read on to know more.
There are many research studies that point out to the connection between oral health and heart health. Some have also found that individuals suffering oral infections also often have cardiovascular problems. There are some dental and cardiology experts who treat gum disease have debated on the link between the two. There is no clear conclusion on this. We asked cardiology and dental experts for their opinions on the same.
Dr Nirmal Jain, cardiologist, Vedant Hospital is of the opinion that there is a link between oral health and heart diseases but there is no corroborative evidence to support it. “The possible causes includes common risk factors for oral health like tobacco chewing, smoking, etc. Poor oral health is associated with inflammation of the gums, which in turn can increase inflammatory markers like CRP, which is associated with heart diseases. Bacteria is mostly associated with heart valve infections, however, this is not a possibility only due to neglect of oral health. Those individuals who maintain overall good hygiene are healthier. Many patients who are smokers and tobacco chewers suffer heart diseases and blockages in the arteries,” he says.
“Some recent health studies conducted in India have pointed out that those with bad health, who neglect taking care of their overall health, including dental health do suffer from cardiovascular issues. This is usually seem among illiterate folks who have limited or poor knowledge of health,” says Dr Soni, Pratik Kumar, senior consultant cardiology, Wockhardt Hospitals. He advises that it is important to brush twice a day to free the mouth of extra bacteria to reduce the chances of getting heart problems. Also, dental caries (tooth decay, cavities is a breakdown of teeth due to bacterial activity) have to be treated to reduce the risk of heart problems.
Dr Karishma Jaradi, aesthetic dentist, Dentzz Dental Care Centres, definitely agrees that there is a connection between oral health and heart health. “All dentists follow this practice to check if there’s any history of heart diseases in the patient before conducting a dental procedure. We give a prophylactic antibiotic cover before doing the dental procedure because there is a link of any infection in the mouth that might affect the heart. Infective endocarditis is when gum diseases or swollen gum infection in the mouth could travel to other parts of the body including the heart,” informs she.
She also adds that in hospitals if a patient has to undergo an elective surgery, which is not an emergency requirement then it’s better that the patient gets a dental clearance before his/her surgery. In case of radiotherapy, it is very important to get a dental clearance beforehand. “In several cases, dental patients never know that they have cardiovascular issues. Those having pain in the gums and periodontal disease are asked to get themselves checked for blood pressure, diabetes and checked by a cardiologist. By looking at a patient’s gums we also ask them to do the same,” adds Dr Jaradi.
Dr Karishma Jaradi shares the following tips for maintaining good oral health:
Ensure you brush your teeth twice a day.
Flossing the teeth is important. Also, use mouthwash recommended by a dentist.
Do not ignore pain or bleeding in the gums, which could be a sign of gum disease.
Visit your dentist for every six months.