This has been one of the debates of the last few years, whether or not oral bacteria causes heart disease and other cardiovascular issues. While systemic infections can increase the risk of a cardiac episode; however, there was a debate whether or not gum disease and heart disease had a corollary relationship. A study done at the University of Florida that stated in mice there is a connection between gum/oral health disease and heart disease.
As heart disease is the leading killer of adults in the United States, it is very important to not only have your physical health checked regularly, you should also regularly have your teeth, gums, and whole mouth examined by a dentist or hygienist to help prevent build up of bacteria that may cause heart disease and other problems. In 2012, the American Heart Association stated there was no causal risk between gum disease and heart disease, but the corollary risks are too great to dismiss. Like the researchers, I am hoping that the American Heart Association finds the association between heart disease and gum disease as causal.
Fact of the matter is, that most people who have heart disease also have some form a periodontal disease. Whether or not you believe yourself at risk for a heart attack, it is always important to have regular physicals, especially if you are over 40 and visit your dentist every 4-6 months. It is well established that having gum disease can cause many other health risks as well, such as diabetes, stroke, damage to the heart and lungs, as well as other organs, bone loss in both the jaw and throughout the body, and for women, issues with pregnancy.
If you have inflamed or bleeding gums that does not go away with regular hygiene, call your dentist right away to ensure you do not have a more serious problem. Periodontal diseases can be reversed and treated. If you are anxious or afraid of the dentist, nearly all of us provide some form of sedation or relaxation dentistry, with and without the use of drugs. It is actually cheaper in the long run, not only for your teeth, but your entire body, to see a dentist regularly. While a cavity or periodontitis treatment may seem expensive in the moment, consider that you may end up paying tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace your teeth and repair other damage to your body, even with insurance.
The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans get coverage, but still, many insurance plans may have limited coverage or high deductibles, that can leave you with a substantial bill. Better to fix a minor issue today before it becomes a bigger, potentially life threatening one. As your friend, and a dentist, I implore you to take good care of both your dental health and your overall physical health.