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Flossing and Heart Disease

A global protocol followed among all dentists and oral care providers is the association between oral health and systemic diseases. Comprehensive screening with thorough assessment of oral hygiene can create a good prophylaxis and also determine the relationship between oral health and systemic diseases. Research has proven that the link between oral health and systemic inflammatory diseases can be evaluated to assess the deteriorating effects on the organ systems.


Inflammatory response

The inflammatory response patterns that manifest in the body are redness, swelling, pain and loss of function. The process of inflammation predominantly affects the periodontium. The biofilm formed may contain bacteria of different types mainly gram positive and gram negative in origin. The microorganisms colonize in the regions of interproximal spaces and gingiva releasing exotoxins, cytotoxins and also protein toxins respectively. In the process of infection the visible changes appear which include bleeding gums, redness etc. This phenomenon is called periodontitis. Prolonged cased of periodontitis can eventually cause coronary diseases such as atherosclerosis.

These conditions occur because of the proliferation of soluble compounds and the release of interleukins and tumor necrosis factors and prostaglandins. The local inflammation thus formed begins to sustain by chemical mediators leading to the development of atherosclerotic lesion. The lesion progresses and the action of extra cellular proteolytic enzymes may cause rupture. This may lead to the formation of thromboses facilitating the blood flow into the heart causing infarction. The identification of inflammatory markers may help in effective diagnosis.


Oral conditions causing heart disease


  • Poor oral health and improper assessment of oral hygiene associated disease can progress to cardiovascular disease.
  • Patients with a history of gum disease are at a risk of developing a heart disease.
  • Patients with fewer teeth due to tooth decay are susceptible to coronary conditions.
  • Alcohol, smoking, diabetes can also lead to deterioration of oral hygiene which may result in coronary conditions.

Development of coronary condition due to poor oral hygiene is mainly associated with the type of inflammatory response generated due to infection in the oral cavity. The research on periodontitis associated heart disease is still underway and the plausible theory of oral hygiene and systemic diseases is slowly being ruled out by extensive study carried out in the respective area.

Flossing

Since the development of heart disease is related to oral hygiene, one of the effective methods to avoid inflammatory conditions suggested by dental care experts is through flossing. Flossing regularly can prevent the onset of periodontitis which occurs due to plaque and tooth decay. The type of floss recommended may be multi filament nylon or monofilament PTFE in origin. The floss is generally coated with waxy layer to avoid the damage or tearing of gums. The method of flossing has to be carefully followed as it may sometimes erode or lead to bleeding of the gums which may also be associated with the travel of formed blood clots in to the heart. Preexisting heart conditions may also lead to the development of bacterial endocarditis due to poor oral hygiene. Other conditions associated are myocardial infarction, congenital heart valve defects and also hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.


  • Inform your doctor about medications that you are taking for any health problem or underlying history of heart disease.
  • In case of the use of blood thinning medications, the dentists and cardiologists have to be notified.
  • Good oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing is suggested to the patients.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 12, 2017