Preventative Treatment of Heart Problems Through Improving Oral Health Birmingham, AL
Many people do not realize that heart problems and dental issues are linked together as part of the oral health connection. In reality, all body systems are interconnected, meaning what happens in one often reflects (or affects) the other. As a result, preventing heart problems may start with improving oral health.
A total oral health doctor can help you better understand the oral health connection and treat your unique and individual needs. At Inverness Smiles: John Aiken, DMD, we can help you prevent heart problems through improving your oral health. We are proud to serve Birmingham and the surrounding area. Call us today at (205) 282-8261 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services.
What Happens During a Total Oral Health Dentistry Visit
While most traditional dentists focus on treating isolated dental problems, total oral health doctors look at patients' health in its entirety. Traditional dentists often only treat patients as passive recipients of care — that is, they do not explain what sort of "healthy mouth baseline" they should be working towards or how to get there. In contrast, total oral health doctors understand that successful relationships with their patients must be collaborative and involve some degree of patient education.
Total oral health dentistry is a dynamic process to be maintained. Annual wellness visits are necessary to get the best results. During these visits, our team members work closely with the patient to best understand their concerns while also identifying potential risk areas, particularly when it comes to inflammation. We will check blood pressure, conduct an oral cancer screening, and ask about sleep to consider all possible factors.
“Total oral health dentistry is a dynamic process to be maintained.”
How Heart Health Can Affect Oral Health
Since oral health and heart health are connected, it should come as no surprise that patients with heart disease may need specific adjustments to their dental care. Patients who have had a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, or even chest pain (also known as angina) should consult their cardiologists before undergoing any dental treatments. Once approved to go to the dentist, patients should tell their dentists about any medications they are taking and ask about what measures the team may take in case of a medical emergency.
Total oral health doctors should be prepared to make any of these adjustments as necessary. While traditional dentists tend to treat isolated conditions, total oral health doctors take a more look at patients in their entirety. This means taking a more involved look at medical histories and pre-existing health conditions while also keeping an eye out for potential comorbidities.
The Importance of the Oral Health Connection
Total oral health dentistry is a collaborative effort between the patient and the doctor, meaning the patient must also take an active role in their care. Part of this is being forthcoming about their medical history and pre-existing conditions. As oral health and heart health exist in correlation, it is only natural for patients with heart conditions to require adjustments to their dental care.
Patients with heart conditions are often on medications or have other vulnerabilities that may cause complications during dental procedures. All of these factors can negatively affect the dental treatment process, potentially causing further heart problems or other medical emergencies. Even if a patient experiences an emergency for an unrelated reason, our team will only be able to provide optimal care if we know the full extent of an individual’s unique medical history and pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, there is a risk of further aggravating the situation.
“As oral health and heart health exist in correlation to each other, it is only natural that patients with heart conditions may require adjustments to their dental care.”
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What Oral Health Can Say About Heart Health
Although research on the relationship between heart health and oral health is continuing, that the two are correlated in some way. For instance, studies show that periodontitis is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Patients with poor dental health are also at higher risk for developing a bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which can affect the heart valves. Additionally, there is a relationship between tooth loss patterns and coronary artery disease.
To elaborate, though there is still not enough evidence to determine a causal relationship between the two, studies show that patients with periodontitis have a two to three times higher risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or another serious cardiovascular event. Furthermore, the mouth acts as an entryway for bacteria to the body. As such, proper oral hygiene is necessary to keep infection at bay. Finally, at least one study found that middle-aged adults who lost at least two teeth had a 23% higher risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not.
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People Also Ask
What Heart Health and Oral Health Have in Common
Heart health is not only affected by the oral-systemic link. Several different systemic conditions may also affect (and be affected by) a patient’s heart health. Some of these conditions are also correlated with oral health. These involve diabetes, malnutrition, and obesity. If severe enough, such conditions may cause arrhythmias, affect the heart’s structure, or promote cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease. All are likely to increase demands on the heart.
Unmanaged diabetes can harm the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, teeth, and more. Those with diabetes have an increased risk of periodontitis (also known as gum disease), a condition with well-established links to heart disease. Furthermore, studies show that periodontitis increases the risk of heart disease and can exacerbate existing heart conditions. Malnutrition and obesity can similarly aggravate periodontitis, leading to a domino effect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How can I prevent gum disease?
A. Making annual wellness visits with your total oral health dentistry doctor is key, as there are certain risk factors that you may not be able to assess on your own. Still, there are many preventive measures you can take at home. Brush at least twice a day using proper technique, and floss at least once daily. Swish with a fluoride-enriched mouthwash, and try to keep a healthy diet. Inverness Smiles: John Aiken, DMD may provide you with further advice based on your personal lifestyle and risk factors.
Q. What are the risk factors for gum disease?
A. Many risk factors for gum disease are related to one’s lifestyle. These involve excessive alcohol use, tobacco use, and poor nutrition. Others include age, genetics, stress, medications, and teeth clenching. Everyone has their own unique risk profile. We can help you identify and treat yours.
Q. How does periodontitis affect heart disease risk?
A. Though experts have yet to find any definitive proof of a causal relationship between periodontitis and heart disease, there are correlations between the two. It is believed that this is due to the inflammation that accompanies periodontitis.
Q. Why are total oral health doctors different?
A. Traditional dentists tend to separate patients from their conditions, obfuscating the true extent of the health problems that may be found when utilizing a more comprehensive approach. The problem with this method is that it often prevents both patient and doctor from addressing the root cause. Total oral health doctors specialize in dentistry while keeping the patient’s entirety under consideration.
Q. Why is it patient education an essential part of total oral health dentistry?
A. More often than not, patients lack the knowledge needed to make critical decisions about their care. Without having a basic understanding of their conditions or treatments, they may find it challenging to navigate the healthcare system without feeling lost or taken advantage of. Total health dentistry aims to empower patients to become active participants in their care, which allows them to have a better vision of where they want to be and how to get there.
- A dentist, also known as a dental surgeon, is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity.
- High Blood Pressure
- High blood pressure, or hypertension, is an abnormal elevation of the arterial blood pressure.
- Oral Hygiene
- Oral hygiene is the practice of maintaining the cleanliness of the mouth, teeth, and gums through brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments.
Call Us Today
A total oral health dentistry doctor can help you maintain both your oral and heart health. We at Inverness Smiles: John Aiken, DMD may be able to help. Call us today at 205-282-8261 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services.
Helpful Related Links
- American Dental Association (ADA). Glossary of Dental Clinical Terms. 2022
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