Dig your grave with your teeth?

Heart disease and stroke are the number one and three causes of death in the United States.  Inflammation has been shown to be a primary factor in the development of atherosclerosis, the major cause of cardiovascular disease.  But did you ever think you could be “digging your grave with your teeth”.

If you keep up with the articles and posts from my nutrition site, my-nutrition-coach.com you might naturally think I’m referring to the heart disease and stroke risks associated with all the poor food choices we make.

While studies show dietary choices do contribute to the disease process and can lead to an early grave, the focus of this post is on the link between heart disease and gum disease.

A private comment on my stroke blog recently asking me about what meds one would need to take after PFO closure initiated this post.  I generally leave specific medical advice to the docs, and most of the controversy and need for better patient guidelines post PFO closure surround the topic of continued blood thinning. One very important medication, and the one most often minimized after PFO closure, is the need to take some form of prophylaxis by antibiotics before dental procedures.  Why?

Some surgical and dental procedures can cause a brief bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream).  No big deal, right?  Well, if you have abnormal heart valves, prosthetic cardiac valves, congenital heart disease or have had cardiac procedures like stenting or occluders (PFO closure devices) placed then these bacteria can become lodged on these abnormal surfaces.  The life threatening medical condition that results is called bacterial endocarditis and it is a heart risk that occurs when this normal bacteria from your mouth (source can also come from the respiratory tract, intestines or urinary tract) enters the bloodstream and causes inflammation in heart tissue.

Bottom line:

The people with the highest risk for bacterial endocarditis include those who have:

  • Prosthetic cardiac valve
  • Previous endocarditis
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Cardiac transplantation with cardiac valve abnormalities

For all others:

The obvious-Avoid periodontitis by brushing and flossing regularly and get those regular checkups and cleaning from your dentist-to help your cardiovascular system and keep you from “digging a grave with your teeth”.

[Sidebar and Quick Tip for those new members of the “heart plug club”]

Keep an extra dose of antibiotics on hand in case of dental emergencies and remember to take your dose as prescribed before you arrive at your dentist for your regular check-ups.

Article by David Dansereau for know-stroke.org


Ide M et al,J of periodontology,2004

Yong-Hee P et al, J of Periodontal Research,2007

Published by David Dansereau

Licensed Physical Therapist, Nutritionist and Author in private consulting practice at PTC Physical Therapy Consulting and SmartMovesPT. Know-Stroke.org is my blog and members resource to raise stroke awareness and educate the public about reducing stroke risk as well as provide tips, tools and review new technologies for stroke recovery. Learn about my book, Body in Balance sold on Amazon at www.physicaltherapycoach.com

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