July 2011 Profile Magazine

Page 54

life

happy gums, happy heart with Dr Simone Ricketts Brushing and flossing your teeth not only benefits your pearly whites, it also decreases your chances of suffering a heart attack. Worldwide, there are many scientific studies linking poor oral hygiene with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Several different studies conducted by cardiologists (heart specialists) and periodontists (gum disease specialists) now suggest that there are several connections between dental health and heart disease. In an Australian study, 77 percent of a group of 80 patients requiring heart transplants had periodontal (gum) disease. In addition, many other studies reveal that people who have suffered heart attacks or have needed transplants or other heart surgery, are much more likely to have dental problems. One theory notes that several species of bacteria that cause gum disease have also been found in the atherosclerotic plaque in arteries in the heart. This can lead to artery blockage.

Furthermore, experts are also now linking periodontal disease with other chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) disease. People with poor oral hygiene and gum disease also tested positive for bloodstream inflammatory markers. Inflammation plays a major role in the onset of atherosclerosis (blocked arteries). The implication is that gum infections seem to add to the inflammatory burden on individuals, increasing cardiovascular risk. Another intriguing American study has suggested that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. In addition, the study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth including gingivitis, cavities and missing teeth, are as good as predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels!

cardiovascular health from that perspective. Missing teeth or loose dentures may mean a softer unbalanced low-fibre diet (lack of crunchy fruit and vegies). It is therefore important to get replacement teeth or crowns if you lose a tooth. The moral of the story is … brush and floss daily, see your dental hygienist for a six-monthly professional clean, replace missing teeth as soon as you can and you will go a long way towards having happy gums and a happy heart! Smile by Design 5443 2888 dentist@smilebydesign.net.au

A further connection between dental health and heart disease is the theory that tooth loss may actually change the diet and cause poorer

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Any required x-rays are done onsite and bulk billed to medicare (NO GAP)

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