3 Ways Poor Dental Health Can Raise Risk For Cardiovascular Disease

Posted on: 18 December 2017

While most people know that poor oral hygiene practices can lead to gum disease and cavities. In addition, when people fail to care for their teeth and gums, they may be less confident to meet their personal and professional goals because of their appearance. Although these reasons can have a negative impact on your life, poor dental health can heighten the risk for an even more serious situation. Here are three ways poor dental health can raise your risk for cardiovascular disease, and what you can do about them:

Bacterial Migration To Heart Valves

Gum disease and cavities are the result of infection-causing microorganisms that invade your oral cavity. When an overabundance of bacteria accumulate around your teeth and gums because of poor dental hygiene, you may be at risk for developing an infection of your heart valves.

Oral bacteria can travel through your bloodstream and settle in your heart and surrounding structures, leading to serious health consequences. If you have gum disease or carious teeth, and you develop chest pain, shortness of breath, or palpitations, see your physician, who may refer you to a cardiologist to determine if you have bacterial endocarditis, pericarditis, or a heart valve infection. If you physician suspects that your cardiac disease may be the result of your dental health, see your dentist for regular check-ups and treatment. 

Systemic Inflammation

Gingivitis and cavities can lead to the release of pro-inflammatory substances known as cytokines. When high concentrations of cytokines escape into your bloodstream, it can trigger a systemic inflammatory response. Systemic inflammation is thought to play an important role in the development of coronary artery disease, and needs to be treated as soon as possible. If you have an oral infection, see a family dentist. He or she may recommended that you take antibiotics to help resolve your infection, which will also help to dampen systemic inflammation.

Cardiac Arrhythmia 

Poor dental health can also increase your risk for developing a cardiac arrhythmia. This conditions refers to an abnormality in the rhythm or rate of your heart, and while all arrhythmias are not life-threatening, they can lead to anxiety, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.

If you develop a heart rate that is either too fast or too slow, or if you feel pounding sensations in your chest, see your doctor. While your abnormal heart rhythm may not be directly caused by your oral health condition, you'll need to visit your dentist to rule out a bacterial infection that could have invaded your cardiovascular system. 

If you have gum disease or cavities, work with both your family dentist and physician to develop an effective treatment plan. The sooner your dental problems are resolved, the less likely you will be to experience problems with your heart.