Can A Tooth Infection Spread To Your Heart?
A tooth infection can surely spread to your heart and other parts of the body via bloodstream. Dental infection is closely related to endocarditis, which is the inflammation of the inner lining of the heart as well as the valves. Dental infection mostly causes sub-acute bacterial endocarditis (SABE), which is a chronic form of endocarditis and poses as a major risk factor for developing endocarditis. The good news is that infective endocarditis is not common in healthy individuals. IE affects individuals with pre-existing heart conditions such as rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart defects, prosthetic valve replacement, valvular defects to name a few, which facilitate bacterial lodgement in the heart.
How Does infection From Tooth Spread To Heart?
Since dental problems are so common and nearly every individual has plaque around their teeth, which is loaded with bacteria. The plaque is not completely removed with proper brushing also and requires professional intervention. If the plaque is not removed then it might cause inflammation of the gums causing gingivitis and on advancing further leads to periodontitis causing bleeding from gums with even slight brushing or flossing. The bacteria from bleeding gums enter the bloodstream and infect the inner lining of the heart, thus causing endocarditis. Generally, immune system in healthy individuals is enough to eliminate this infection from bloodstream, but in cases with already compromised heart condition these bacteria lodge and multiply in the inner lining of the heart and present with symptoms of fever, fatigue, chills and night sweats, muscle/joint pain.
How to Prevent Endocarditis from the Dental Infections?
Endocarditis can be prevented from dental infections by regularly brushing teeth along with flossing with regular visits to dental professionals for timely scaling to prevent any gum infection.
Periodontitis is found to be a risk factor for diabetes and coronary artery disease. It is estimated that about 30% deaths around the world is due to cardiovascular disease. Therefore, measures should be taken to prevent cardiovascular disease with a healthy lifestyle, exercising, weight control and cessation of smoking. It is also important to keep oral hygiene and measures should be taken to prevent and treat dental infections. Since they are most of the times asymptomatic, but very common, regular dental visit is necessary for early identification and treatment to avoid progression of infection and need for root canal treatment. If RCT is indicated then it should be done without any second thought as this might lead to probability of a heart disease.
Antibiotic therapy is also suggested prior to certain dental procedures for patients who are at a higher risk of developing complications from endocarditis. Therefore, it is imperative to share your past as well as current cardiac history with your dentist prior to starting dental treatment. Dental procedures that require antibiotic treatment are that involve manipulation of gingival or periapical tissues such as root canal treatment, periodontitis, tooth extraction, implant placement and dental fractures to name a few. The procedures that do not require antibiotic treatment are for dental x-rays, local anesthesia, orthodontic bracket placement, removable partial denture placement etc.
Antibiotic treatment is recommended in patients who already have a history of endocarditis, since it makes them more susceptible for further endocarditis; prosthetic valve or the use of prosthesis in the repair of cardiac valve; congenital heart disease and/or cardiac transplant.
The patient should make sure to share every detail of cardiac history including whether you have had a cardiac surgery within 6 months, prescribed medications as well as over the counter medications along with the name and number of the doctors under whose care one is in. Last but not the least, they should brush their teeth twice daily, floss teeth at least once daily, use mouth wash once daily. It is imperative to maintain good oral hygiene and also visiting a dental professional every 6 months for professional scaling, which is required even if you follow all oral hygiene tips daily, or earlier to that if advised, by your dental professional.
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