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Gum Disease and Your Heart

You might not know this, but if you have gingivitis or periodontitis, the mild and severe stages of gum disease, respectively, you could be putting your heart at risk. At the same time, if you have heart problems, it’s very important that you take good care of your gums. What’s the connection? Read on to find out.

Gum Health Affects the Heart

If you have gum disease, there is more bacteria than normal in your gum tissue. This bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and attach to fatty deposits in the blood vessels. This can cause the deposits to break off and head toward the heart, which can cause a heart attack. If the bacteria travels to the heart, you’re also at risk for heart infection. This is particularly true if you have certain heart conditions already.

Preventing Problems With Good Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene can make it less likely that you will have heart problems caused by gum disease. Be sure to brush twice daily and to floss every night before bed. Also, see your dentist regularly. Follow his or her advice regarding how often you should have your teeth cleaned; some people need to go more often than twice yearly, particularly if they have gum disease.

Ask Whether You Need Antibiotics

There are certain heart conditions that make infections more likely. If you have had recent surgery or if you have an artificial heart valve or any other heart condition, check with your cardiologist as to whether you should take antibiotics before having dental work (including cleanings). Be sure to follow the directions; many protocols call for a very large dose of antibiotics one or two hours before the appointment. If you are prescribed antibiotics for a gum infection, take them as directed and don’t stop taking them early unless your doctor or dentist tells you to.

Your gum health is essential to protecting your heart. Talk to your dentist about how you can preserve the health of your heart by combating gum disease.