Undetected tooth infections could increase the risk of heart disease by almost three times, according to new research.
The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research1, has found that people with untreated tooth infections are 2.7 times more likely to have cardiovascular problems, such as coronary artery disease, than patients who have had treatment of dental infections.
With cardiovascular diseases being a contributor in an estimated 30 per cent of all deaths globally, leading health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, wants to encourage more regular dental visits, especially if we are experiencing toothache, sensitivity or bleeding gums.
Speaking on the issue Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: “This research is very worrying as tooth infections are initially caused by tooth decay which is triggered by poor oral hygiene routines and a diet high in sugar.
“The major signs of root infection (usually known as a dental abscess) include pain, often when biting down on the tooth, and sometimes swelling. The tooth may also become discoloured. But sometimes infection does not immediately present with these symptoms and can go undetected for some time.
“Thankfully, maintaining good basic oral health and cutting your risk is very easy. By brushing our teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on the amount of sugary foods and drinks and how often we have them and visiting our dentist regularly, as often as they recommend, we can help prevent disease, not only in the mouth but the whole body too.”
As well as looking after your oral health preventing gum disease can be boosted by a healthy diet, weight control, exercise and not smoking.
“Infections occur when decay reaches the centre of the tooth, the dental pulp, when the tooth dies a reservoir of bacteria spreads beyond the end of the root and can enter the bloodstream. Treatment for this would usually be a root canal treatment to remove all of the infected tissue and prevent bacteria spreading,” Dr Carter added.
“These new findings add to the existing links between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. It has previously been established that people with gum disease almost twice as likely to develop heart disease than people without it, this makes the need for good oral care even more important.
“Over recent years’ problems in the mouth have also been linked to other serious conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and problems with pregnancy, so it is vital that we see our oral health as a priority.”
The Oral Health Foundation welcomes more research into this matter as it may be a way to prevent many instances of cardiovascular disease around the world and ultimately save lives.
With thanks to the British dental Health Foundation
Get your blood pressure checked before your dental appointment!
High blood pressure, also called HBP or hypertension, can affect your ability to receive oral healthcare. Performing dental treatments on patients with hypertension can be detrimental! If your blood pressure is too high, many dentists won’t schedule procedures until you receive a health assessment from your medical doctor.
What is high blood pressure?
The two forces measured for your blood pressure reading are the blood pumping out of your heart and into your arteries (systolic), and the heart resting between beats (diastolic). Normal blood pressure readings for a healthy individuals who are 20 years and older should be below 120 for systolic and below 80 for diastolic. If blood pressure readings are consistently higher than 120/80 then you’re probably suffering from hypertension.
According to Heart.org, the website of the American Heart Association, “Untreated high blood pressure damages and scars your arteries.” High blood pressure increases risks of blood clots, organ damage, heart attacks, and strokes. High blood pressure also results increased plaque build-up and weakening blood vessels.
How does high blood pressure affect my dental health?
In a white paper released by the American Diagnostic Corporation, it states: “…elevations of blood pressure can increase a patient’s risk of experiencing a stroke or myocardial infarctions in the dental chair.” Patients with hypertension can also be in danger from local anesthetics that use vasoconstrictors, such as epinephrine, which increase blood pressure and heart arrhythmia.
High blood pressure medications can also affect your dental wellbeing. Some prescriptions cause dry mouth and may also alter your sense of taste. Meds with calcium blockers can also create gum overgrowth, which can affect a patient’s ability to chew and may require periodontal surgery to correct.
Will my dentist still treat me if I have high blood pressure?
Most dentists will not treat patients who have(untreated) high blood pressure, especially if your numbers are in the Stage 1 or higher range for hypertension.
This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.
mm Hg (upper #)
mm Hg (lower #)
||less than 120||and||less than 80|
|Prehypertension||120 – 139||or||80 – 89|
|High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
|140 – 159||or||90 – 99|
|High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
|160 or higher||or||100 or higher|
(Emergency care needed)
|Higher than 180||or||Higher than 110|
* Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.
If you’re being treated for high blood pressure, it’s important for you to discuss your condition and your medications with your dentist before beginning any treatments. Most patients being treated for high blood pressure can still have dental procedures, take anti-anxiety medications (often used for oral conscious sedation), and safely receive local anesthetics.
If you have any thoughts or questions regarding this post kindly post your comments below or email us via our website www.harrow-dentist.com or call 020 84272543
With acknowledgements to Best Dentist News