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04/14/2010

Do mouth germs worsen heart disease...?

I got my teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist Tuesday afternoon.  She conversed.  I mumbled.  Our "mumblesation" naturally turned to health-related issues, since I'm a health reporter and she works in the dental field.

On a side note: She didn't scream when the salivary gland on the right side of my mouth suddenly shot a stream of saliva quite a distance into the air (I think she would have screamed, had she seen it).  

But she did get "creeped" out that few people seem to understand the potential effects when a person doesn't floss, and brush daily with toothpaste. There are many potential causes of heart disease, for example.

But "researchers also believe poor dental health may contribute to heart disease. Germs on your teeth and gums can travel from your mouth to your heart, potentially worsening coronary artery disease," says MayoClinic.com.

The American Heart Association even offers guidelines that recommend taking especially good care of your mouth and teeth if you already have heart disease.

"As someone with heart disease, you have three responsibilities," the Heart Association says: 

1. Establish and maintain a healthy mouth. Practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly.

2. Make sure your dentist knows you have a heart problem.

3. Carefully follow your physician's and dentist's instructions when they prescribe special medications such as antibiotics."

Pulse on Health

By Jeff Hansel, member Association of Health Care Journalists

Health Reporter for the Post-Bulletin newspaper, 18 1st Ave. S.E. in Rochester, Minnesota 55904 

Twitter Hansel's Pulse: @Jeff Hansel

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Wow. This is very interesting. I had no idea that it was possible to take MRI's of the mouth. Amazing what advances we continue to make in technology and science.

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