We all know that when you flash someone a smile it warms the heart but there is another connection between your teeth and your heart that is very important. There are numerous confirmed studies that link periodontal (gum) disease to heart and other systemic disease. People with periodontal (gum) disease are at a greater risk because bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream and travels to other organs such as the heart and can cause harm.
To get a little more technical, oral byproducts enter the bloodstream and trigger the liver to make substances that inflame arteries and may cause blood clots that clog arteries leading to strokes and heart attacks. One of the substances that the liver makes in response to these bacteria and their byproducts is something called C Reactive Protein (CRP). Elevated CRP is a known risk factor for heart disease. You might want to ask your doctor to run a CRP blood level. Periodontal treatment is now part of the protocol when treating patients who have heart disease; the lucky ones anyway. Heart disease is still the number one killer (over 35% of deaths are from heart and heart related disease; from 2006 statistics).
What exactly is Periodontal disease? Periodontal (perio literally means around the tooth) disease destroys the fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth and the teeth begin to get loose and eventually fall out. Once you have lost that bone there is no way to get it back. It is estimated that 75% of people at some point will suffer periodontal disease. Since my background is in dentistry, my awareness level on this is very high. Everyday that I treated patients, I saw someone who had periodontal disease and who regretted not getting regular check-ups so that it could have been detected earlier.
The problem with oral disease ( both decay and gum disease) is that it never hurts until it progresses to more advanced stages. Typically, I would hear that they were too afraid to come to the dentist or that they could not afford to. Personally, I would rather confront a couple of cleanings a year than having to have my chest sawed open! As far as the financial aspect, I think that most people could afford a couple of cleanings a year (average cost without dental insurance is around $150 for a cleaning, exam and x-rays). One coffee a week at your local popular coffee chain is about $192 a year and I know that most people are frequenting similar places probably more than once a week.
Obviously, gum disease is not the only risk factor but it is enough to have doctors and surgeons incorporate oral health as part of their treatment protocol. Periodontal disease is also linked to failure of hip replacements. In fact, you have to have a clean bill of oral health before you can have hip replacement surgery. Also, people who keep their own teeth live on an average of 10 years longer!
If you live in San Antonio, my husband Dr. Edward J Camacho, is an excellent dentist. He is very good at handling patients who are fearful. He has been practicing since 1980 and attented the Health Science Center right here in San Antonio. He is also a graduate of Central Catholic High School. He is very experienced in all phases of general dentistry including cosmetic, invisalign (invisible braces) and periodontal management. In fact, our office (Cosmetic Dental Associates) is in the top 5% of Invisalign providers in the nation. He was also voted to "America's Top Dentists" by Consumer's Research Council of America.
His office is located at 5837 Babcock (corner of Babcock and Huebner in the HEB shopping center). The phone number is (210) 33-smile (337-6453). Be sure to ask for him since we have more than one doctor in the clinic. Click here and you will be able to receive a free digital smile makeover. Healthy teeth and gums are essential to your overall health so get your teeth cleaned and checked regularly. Your heart will thank you for it. Now, if you will excuse me I am going to go brush and floss my teeth!