Bacteria from your tooth infection can affect your heart

After examining teeth and arteries of over 500 people, researchers discovered that those in need of a root canal were nearly three times more likely to have a heart attack — than patients with healthy teeth

 

dental-heaalth-heartPut off the dentist and your smile isn’t the only thing that can suffer: Poor oral hygiene could hurt your heart health, suggests a new study from Finland.

After examining the teeth and the arteries of more than 500 people, the researchers discovered that those in need of a root canal were nearly three times more likely to have acute coronary syndrome — a clogging of the heart’s arteries that can cause a heart attack — than were patients with healthy teeth.

You need a root canal if you develop a root tip infection in the pulp, the tissue in the center of your tooth. One of the most common causes of this is a deep decay, often due to a cavity that’s left untreated and worsens. The bacteria from your tooth infection can spread to other areas of your body, says study author John Liljestrand, DDS.

That includes your heart: And if it’s already damaged—say, due to heart disease—that bacteria can spark a serious infection in your heart called endocarditis.

What’s more, your body reacts to the bacteria by ramping up systemwide inflammation to fight it off, says Liljestrand. And that’s a problem even for those with no known heart problems. Too much inflammation can lead to the development of plaque in the arteries and blood vessels, which can weaken or damage your heart. This can create blood clots that lead to heart attack or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

Root tip infections are pretty common—the American Association of Endodontists performs more than 15 million root canals every year. People of any age are at risk.

Problem is, lots of people don’t know they have one of these infections: Many times, there aren’t symptoms because the tooth is already “dead” and no longer has access to a blood supply—meaning it can no longer feel pain—so they’re usually only spotted by x-ray, says Liljestrand.

That makes your regular dentist appointment even more important. Your cleanings and examinations should be determined by your dentist, but for many people an exam once a year is usually enough, says Liljestrand.

This will allow your dentist to get a good look at your teeth’s health, which will help him determine how often you should receive x-rays. Most people get them once a year, says Liljestrand, but it does vary depending on medical and oral history. If you’ve had many fillings and gum disease in the past, or if you smoke or chew tobacco, your dentist may recommend getting an x-ray done every 6 months during your checkup instead, according to the American Dental Association.

Between visits, keep your mouth healthy by brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth daily, says Liljestrand. This will cut your risk of developing cavities that, if left untreated, can spark your need for a root canal.

Source: Prevention