Dental Care for People With Heart Disease
If you’ve had a stroke in the past, tell your dentist if you are taking anticoagulants (blood-thinning drugs). These medications could result in excessive bleeding during some oral surgery procedures.
If your stroke has impaired your ability to produce an adequate amount of saliva, your dentist may recommend the use of artificial saliva. If your stroke has affected your face, tongue, or dominant hand and arm, your dentist may also recommend use of fluoride gels, modified brushing or flossing techniques, and strategies others can use to assist you in maintaining good oral hygiene.
Oral Health and Heart Failure
Some medications used to treat heart failure (such as diuretics, or water pills) can also cause dry mouth. Ask your dentist about dry mouth treatments, including the use of artificial saliva.
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 the appropriate medications to use 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 because 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.