Judson Haims: Diabetes and cardiovascular health are tied to oral care | AspenTimes.com

Judson Haims: Diabetes and cardiovascular health are tied to oral care

Judson Haims
Special to The Aspen Times
Judson Haims
Courtesy photo

When people think oral care, most do not associate it with diabetes and coronary heart disease.

This is not meant to be a sensational statement; it is fact. However, if it did capture your attention, you may be interested to know that your oral hygiene affects your overall health.

In effort to better understand the correlation between oral health and general health, it is important that we educate ourselves. They are interlinked and understanding how will provide insight to better over-all health.


The International Diabetes Federation has projected that by 2030, the number of people worldwide affected with diabetes will increase by almost 120 million. Globally, they predict that by 2045, people living with diabetes will increase by 51%. As such, diabetes represents a major health concern.

For people who are diagnosed with diabetes, it is estimated that about 22% have periodontal, or gum, disease. Emerging research suggests that gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and thus contribute to the progression of diabetes.

One of the links between diabetes and poor oral care stems from the glucose which is present in your saliva. When diabetes is not controlled, high glucose levels in your saliva help harmful bacteria grow which can lead to gum disease.

Procedures like root canals, crowns and other invasive procedures tend to enable bacteria and toxins present in your mouth to travel to other parts of your body and thus wreak havoc. This is one reason why dentists most often provide antibiotics when performing such these procedures.

The American Dental Association, and research facilities across the world indicated that when people with diabetes manage their oral care, they have much more success managing their blood sugar levels.

Cardiovascular diseases

The relationship between oral health to cardiovascular health is being studied at many research institutions. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic believe that for people who have some congenital heart defects and artificial heart valves, the correlation between oral care and heart health does exist.

It is thought that periodontal disease symptoms like swollen and bleeding gums enable bacteria and toxins from your mouth to enter the blood stream. When this happens, the potential for the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries is elevated. These plaque deposits can lead to serious problems, such as blood clots, which can block blood flow and thus cause a stroke.

According to a report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, people with periodontal disease may have a greater possibility to have a history of heart problems.

Make sure to inform your dentist of any heart issues you may have prior to having any oral procedures. Your dentist may need to provide you with antibiotics before they perform certain types of dental procedures.

Talk to your dentist

People who take blood thinning medications may need to stop taking these medicines before some dental procedures. These medications may inhibit with the body’s normal clotting ability which is of concern to dentists for procedures that cause bleeding. This is something your dentist may choose to discuss with you and your physician.

People who have angina and take calcium channel blockers as well as people who may take medications that have the side effect of causing dry mouth also should inform your dental provide before prior to an oral procedure.

Informing your dental provider of such concerns may allow them to suggest options and may prevent unnecessary concerns.

The correlation between oral care and overall health is hard to dispute. If your gums are red, swollen and sore to the touch, bleed when you eat, brush or floss, or you frequently have bad breath or notice a bad taste in your mouth, you may have greater concerns than just those pertaining to your mouth.

You can protect yourself from developing and exacerbating many health concerns by paying attention to your oral health.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.