The Link Between Dental Health and Heart Disease

Healthy Teeth, Healthy Heart: The Link Between Dental Health and Heart Disease

dental careIf you care about your dental health, you're doing more than just ensuring a great smile, you're also protecting your heart. Dr. Joseph Leanza, director of the dental care center at the new White Plains hospital, which is set to open in December 2023, said research shows there may be a link between periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, and heart disease.

According to the CDC, approximately 47% of the population over the age of 30 is affected by gum disease, which is characterized by a bacterial infection. As Dr. Leanza explains, these bacteria can travel in your bloodstream, creating inflammation in your blood vessels, especially in your coronary arteries. Inflammation makes it easier for cholesterol and fat, also known as plaque, to stick to the inside of your arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attack.WP HospitalJan2024

“Periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease share many common risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Joshua Latzman, a cardiologist at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates. Modifying these risk factors is critical for optimal oral and heart health, he said.

Dr. Leanza says there are also ways to help reduce your risk of gum disease and combat it if you're already experiencing symptoms, such as gums that bleed when you brush or chronic bad breath. The dental specialist has been with White Plains Hospital for more than 25 years and currently practices in a new, state-of-the-art facility at 79 East Post Road in White Plains.

“The first step is to visit your dentist regularly for an evaluation,” he said, adding that two annual cleanings are recommended; in some cases, three or four visits per year may be necessary, or a visit to a specialist such as a periodontist. Your dentist may also recommend advanced treatments such as scaling (a more intense cleaning), which can help fight gum disease. In addition to routine exams and cleanings, White Plains Hospital Dental Care offers a full range of dental services, including oral cancer screenings, x-rays, crowns and bridges, dentures, tooth extractions, fillings, implants and root canals.

Dr. Razman also stresses that patients who have had heart valve surgery should take extra precautions before seeing the dentist. “Bacteria that enter the bloodstream from the mouth during dental procedures may put those with artificial heart valves at risk for endocarditis, so before visiting the dentist, ask your doctor if you should take antibiotics,” He said.

Proper home care, including brushing and flossing, is equally important. Dr. Leanza notes that your dental hygienist can recommend specific products, such as water flossers, or even certain toothpastes or mouthwashes that can specifically help treat gum disease.

“Prevention is always the best way to solve health problems,” said Dr. Leanza. “The earlier we start, the better, but it’s never too late to improve your dental health.”

To schedule an appointment at the White Plains Hospital Dental Care Center, please call 914-849-3488.

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