Monday, June 23, 2003 Posted: 9:43 PM HKT
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) — A dentist may be the first one to suspect health problems, including heart disease.
A sore or painful jaw is one indicator of heart disease, notes the Academy of General Dentistry. There’s also a connection between gum disease and heart problems.
“I’ve helped patients with heart conditions by diagnosing dental problems that were causing local infections,” said Dr. E. Mac Edington, a Clarksville, Tennessee, dentist speaking for the AGD.
“By eliminating a local infection involving a tooth or the gums, patients have been able to decrease blood pressure medications and improve overall health,” he said.
The organization says new research is suggesting that people with gum disease are at higher risk for heart attacks.
If bacteria in the infected gums dislodge, they can enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. That in turn decreases the blood flow to the heart, increasing chances of a heart attack and aggravating high blood pressure.