Heart attacks are serious medical emergencies which require immediate attention. A person may be at risk of the serious condition if they notice an unusual sign in their mouth. What is it?
Recently, dentists, researchers and doctors have begun to examine the link between oral health and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks.
One area they have particularly focused on is the relationship between gum disease and heart disease.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is inflammation of the gums.
It can lead to the breakdown of the gums, teeth and bone tissues which hold them in place.
Heart disease refers to a broad set of conditions, including heart attack and stroke.
What is the link?
Certified dentist, Dr Lisa Creaven said when you think about dental health, the focus is likely to be on preventing cavities in your teeth.
She continued: “But it’s important to pay attention to your gums too.
“Gums play a major role not only in your dental health, but in your overall well-being.
“When people don’t practice proper dental hygiene, bacteria in the mouth forms plaque on the teeth.
“These bacteria may cause your gums to become inflamed, which results in red, swollen or bleeding gums.
“For many people with gingivitis, this inflammation is not painful and if you catch gingivitis early, it can be reversed and healed with proper oral hygiene.”
Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium which is the fibrous bad that surrounds your heart.
Dr Michael Mosley explained: “It can occur after a viral or bacterial infection or following a heart attack.
“But often the cause is unknown and there is an emerging theory that the bacteria that cause gum disease may also play a role in a number of major health problems.
“Some scientists say it’s because these bacteria have also been found in the brain and heart tissue samples of people who have died of these illnesses.”
How to spot gum disease
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) said the surest sign of gum disease is inflammation.
It added: “Gingivitis can cause red, painful, and tender gums.
“Periodontitis can then develop which can cause bad breath and affects the tissues that hold your teeth in place.
“If periodontitis isn’t treated your jawbone may become damaged, and your teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.”