Dental Care for People With Heart Disease
Points to Remember About Dental Care and Heart Disease
- Give your dentist a complete list of the names and dosages of all the drugs you are taking for your heart condition (as well as any other prescription or nonprescription drugs that you may be taking). This will help your dentist decide on the best treatment course for you including medication selection for dental procedures.
- Give your dentist the name and phone number of your doctor(s) in case your dentist needs to speak to him or her about your care.
- If you are particularly nervous about undergoing a dental procedure as a result of your heart condition, talk with your dentist and heart doctor. Your doctors can provide you with information and work with you on strategies for controlling dental pain and easing your fears.
Is There a Link Between Periodontal Disease and Heart Disease?
Various researchers and government agencies continue to investigate the possible relationship between gum (periodontal) disease and heart disease. Some researchers speculate that bacteria in the mouth that are involved in the development of gum disease move into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the blood vessels -- changes that in turn contribute to heart disease and stroke.
Numerous studies are being conducted that both support and refute the possible link between these two diseases. One study, published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that people who had fewer than 25 teeth at the start of the 12-year trial (teeth loss is the ultimate end result of untreated gum disease) had a 57% greater risk of stroke compared with patients who had 25 or more teeth.
Another study involving over 4,000 patients and 17 years of follow up showed no evidence of a decreased risk of coronary heart disease if chronic gum disease was eliminated. Based on these results, these researchers speculate that the relationship between gum disease and an increase in cardiovascular risk is coincidental and that gum disease does not cause coronary heart disease.
The true role, if there is one, between gum disease and heart disease remains to be determined.