Several theories exist to explain the link between oral health, periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen available to the heart. This may lead to heart attacks.
Another possibility is that the chronic inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque buildup, which may contribute to thickening of the walls of the arteries.
Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Dr. Rich and your cardiologist will be able to determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures.