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Oral Hygiene Affects Heart Health
“There is no definitive conclusion as to the link, but studies show that more than 50 percent of patients who are missing teeth also have heart disease,” says cardiologist Jian Xin Qin, M.D. “There may be a correlation with bacteria from the mouth getting into the bloodstream, which can cause inflammation of the arteries, leading to a build-up of plaque and resulting in heart disease.”
Patients who have a heart condition have an important reason to maintain good oral hygiene, one that could have a long-lasting effect on their overall health: The effect it has on dental procedures. Some dentists contact a patient’s cardiologist before completing an invasive procedure, like drilling into a tooth, pulling a tooth or any procedure that might involve cutting into mouth tissue.
“This way the patient can receive antibiotics before the procedure so they don’t end up with an infection to his/her heart; on the other hand, some are sent to the dentist and get their dental work completed before elective heart surgery to prevent later infection to the heart,” Dr. Qin says.
Many patients who have experienced a stroke or heart disease take anticoagulant drugs to reduce the chances of blood clots. However, these drugs then limit the extent of treatment a dentist can perform.
“If a patient has had a heart condition that requires him or her to be on blood thinning medications, we have to know about dental procedures before they happen,” Dr. Qin says. “We can suspend blood thinners for a few days before a procedure and then resume the medication after the dental procedure is complete. Other medications have bigger consequences, such as heart attack or even death, if stopped prematurely. The patient has to be on them for at least six months to one year after stent placement. That is the first choice of treatment for heart attack. For that reason, the patient’s cardiologist has to be contacted before stopping those blood thinners.”
Dentists who need to complete a procedure that comes with extra risk because a patient is on a blood thinning medication sometimes opt for general anesthesia for the patient, and complete the treatment at a hospital.
“This is another layer of safety for the patient,” Dr. Qin says. “If something happens, we are here to step in and help.”
“If a patient has had a heart condition that requires him or her to be on blood thinning medications, we have to know about dental procedures before they happen, ” Dr. Qin says.
Men & Women Differing Heart Symptoms
Jian Xin Qin, M.D.
Lee Physician Group
8960 Colonial Center Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33905