The Link Between Your Heart Health And Oral Health

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Bad breath, bleeding when you floss and swollen gums are some of the most common signs of poor oral hygiene. But as it turns out, oral hygiene conditions such as inflamed gums and gingivitis (a gum disease that causes inflammation) could be linked to your heart health as well.

How so? Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or illness. For those living with heart conditions such as coronary artery disease, bodily inflammation is very common, and according to Sindhu Koshy, M.D., a cardiologist at Henry Ford Health, it is one of the main indicators as to the state of your heart.

“Inflammation can occur anywhere in the body and usually is the immune response to fight an illness,” says Dr. Koshy. “Inflammation can also be triggered by high levels of cholesterol or chronic stress. Chronic or persistent inflammation can cause blood clots or loosen plaque in arteries causing heart attacks.”

While gum inflammation isn’t a tell-tale sign you have a heart problem, if you or your dentist notices a change in your gum health (whether you know you have a heart condition or not), this could be cause for greater concern.

Healthy Gums, Healthy Heart

Whenever you see your dentist, it is important to let them know if you have a heart condition such as coronary artery disease. Some treatments or procedures may require you to hold medications or be evaluated by your cardiologist.

“Sometimes certain heart medications may change the way you receive dental care,” says Dr. Koshy. “Often times, your dentist will want to see you more regularly to monitor any changes in your oral health.”

You can also take things one step further by practicing proper oral hygiene, too:

  • Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day (or after every meal)
  • Floss daily
  • Report any changes in your oral health to your dentist
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings

If your dentist warns you of inflammation in your mouth or diagnoses you with gingivitis, be sure to follow up with your primary care provider. They may want to test your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to see if these are the reasons for the inflammation you are experiencing.

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Learn how healthy your heart is by taking our Heart Smart Quiz. Then, schedule an appointment with a cardiologist at Henry Ford by visiting henryford.com or calling 1-800-436-7936.

Dr. Sindhu Koshy is a cardiologist for Henry Ford Health who sees patients at Cardiovascular Consultants, P.C.

Categories: FeelWell