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How your Teeth could Signal your risk of a Heart Attack

teeth could signal risk of heart attackPoway and Rancho Bernardo, CA

If you have been reading our blog for any length of time, you know how important it is that you get your teeth cleaned and receive a thorough dental checkup twice a year. While you may be tempted to forgo that appointment, don’t! Find out from one of Poway’s family dentists, Dr. Nicol Cook, how your teeth could signal your risk of heart disease, and why these twice-yearly dental visits could be a lifesaver.

We all develop plaque and tartar on our teeth, even dentists! This buildup occurs as a result of the foods we eat, and from the bacteria that naturally reside in our mouths. Everyone has it, so don’t fret. Tartar buildup is also referred to as calculus. It’s hard, stuck on matter that continues to get worse unless you receive a professional dental cleaning. Even if you brush and floss daily, you still will get calculus on your teeth. The worse spot for calculus buildup is behind the lower front teeth.

If you have adapted to a thorough oral hygiene routine, and never skip your dental cleanings, then you might not be able to identify calculus buildup, but it’s there. It’s usually yellow or grey in color, hard, and conceals the small spaces between your teeth. Sometimes, however, patients that adhere to rigid oral hygiene efforts still experience a significant amount of buildup on their teeth. Dental plaque often causes gum irritation, such as inflammation, bleeding gums, and gums that are tender to the touch. Plus, bad breath is often to blame for calculus buildup. While problems may start with your oral health by increasing your risk of gum disease, it also could signal something more serious. If you can visually see the calculus on your teeth, it’s time to get it removed by receiving a professional dental cleaning because ignoring it could increase your risk of a heart attack.

For years everyone thought that fat clogged arteries. While too much fat and cholesterol don’t help the heart, there is another culprit to consider. Now, studies are showing that calcium buildup may also be to blame for heart attacks. Known as Coronary Artery Calcification (CAC), this calcium buildup narrows blood vessels, which leads to a greater chance of a heart attack. Here is a closer look at what your teeth have to do with your heart.

If you don’t take care of your teeth or have calculus removed, it often results in gum disease, which provides easy access for harmful oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Studies report that in certain patients with atherosclerotic plaque or clogged arteries, that several strands of harmful oral bacteria were evident in the arterial plaque. Oral bacteria can harm blood vessels or cause blood clots by releasing toxins into the bloodstream. Further evidence goes on to show that when inflammation is present in the mouth, it fuels inflammation elsewhere in the body, which could be detrimental for the heart.

While there still is a lot of research to be done on the connection between poor oral health and heart disease, it makes sense to take care of your teeth and gums by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist for checkups and cleanings. It will help keep your oral health in check and is a good measure for your heart health.

To learn more about the importance of taking care of your oral health, or to schedule an appointment, call (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.

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