Dental Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

Many factors go into determining a person's odds of having a heart attack and stroke. These are two factors you may not be aware of.

Sleep Apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs at night while you sleep and may put you at increased risk of both heart attack and stroke. How are these two things connected? At night when a person falls asleep the soft tissue in the upper airway (tongue and soft palate) collapse when you relax into sleep and prevent air from traveling to the lungs which causes the person to arouse from sleep. This can happen hundreds of times per night and decreases oxygen saturation in the bloodstream. Sleep apnea can also raise adrenaline (the fight or flight chemical produced by the body) when your brain needs to wake you up as your airway obstructs - if this happens many times every hour as in moderate-severe apnea, it's like running a marathon every night and if you have any underlying cardiac conditions, this will increase your risk of heart attack.

Patients who have symptoms of sleep apnea such as; snoring, daytime fatigue, morning headaches or arouse during sleep frequently should see their physician. At Cool Dental, we work hand in hand with our patients and their physicians to ensure that we screen our patients and refer accordingly for treatment. Depending on the severity and other factors, a dental appliance may even be an option for you.

Periodontal Disease may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. When you eat, food becomes trapped between your teeth and gums. When this food sits it is consumed by oral bacteria and turns into soft dental plaque. The bacteria and the toxin laden plaque lies against the soft tissue in the mouth which irritates it and infection/inflammatory response begins. The inflammatory response brings many types of blood cells to the site to start fighting the "infection" that is present and in turn inflammation in the body is increased which raises the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease floss daily. Brushing can remove plaque above the gum line, but it cannot reach the harmful plaque and bacteria that is lodged underneath the gums. It is this plaque that is the most harmful to the gums, bone and other supporting structures of the teeth. It is recommended to have harmful plaque and tartar removed in a minimum of 2-3 times per year in a healthy mouth, if diseases such as gingivitis or periodontal disease is present it is recommended to have teeth cleaned by the dental hygienist 3-4 per year.