Can your dentist actually help you avoid heart disease? According to leading U.S. cardiologist Dr. Chauncey Crandall, those regular dental checkups are one way to reduce your risk for heart disease, our leading cause of death. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental care help prevent gum disease, a little-known risk factor for heart problems. Researchers are not exactly clear on how gum disease affects one’s heart, but believe that the open sores present with inflamed gums invite an invasion of the millions of bacteria living in our mouth.
Scientists theorize that these invading bacteria may attach themselves to already-existing plaque in the coronary arteries, adding to the narrowing and the inflammation present in atherosclerotic heart disease.
The American Academy of Periodontology also warns that gum disease may worsen existing heart conditions. Those at risk for or those with certain pre-existing heart conditions may need to use antibiotics preventively before certain dental procedures.
Plus, there is now a link between stroke and gum disease. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that periodontal or gum disease increases the risk of damage to the blood vessels, particularly the arteries that supply the brain.
Because of this, Dr. Crandall advises good dental care along with other cardiovascular system-protective measures. Dr. Crandall details 6 additional hidden risk factors in his popular book The Simple Heart Cure: The 90-Day Program to Stop and Reverse Heart Disease. The Simple Heart Cure is available online and at book retailers.